Further community based testing venues have opened in Stoke-on-Trent to help combat spread of the virus across the city.
Last week City Central Mosque in Hanley became the first religious venue to be used in the city as a testing centre for the local community. Testing will again be available for the next two weeks on Wednesdays, 10am to 2pm. Other places of worship have also come forward to be future test centres.
This comes as the LRV at Staffordshire University opened as a testing venue before Christmas and is now hosting testing every Tuesday and Wednesday.
Community testing which is available seven days a week has also been extended to 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays so everyone that is in a role where they have to go out to work can get tested at least once a week.
Iman Amar, City Central Mosque said: “On Wednesday we hosted community testing for the first time and I was pleased with how successful it was. People that came to get tested felt safe and comfortable and there was lots of space for people to get tested.
“As the City Central Mosque is in a central and accessible location in the city, I felt it was important to offer our space for testing. We want to integrate the wider community with the convenience of testing and highlight that within our own community we are actively supporting one another during these tough times.
Since the city council started the community lateral flow programme, 7720 residents have now been tested across the city. Lateral flow testing has also taken place across a wide range of education providers, public sector partners and care providers. Last week (11 January to 17 January) 1347 residents were tested in community settings.
Leader of the city council leader Abi Brown said: “It is fantastic that we are now seeing leaders in the community come forward to offer testing at their venues and helping share our messages within their own communities. Last week I also wrote to 41 Stoke-on-Trent employers to encourage them to sign up to offer workforce testing and we are now in talks with many to start implementing this. Our testing offer is rapidly increasing across the city and we hope to share more venues we have on-board for testing over the coming days, from community centres and village halls to local football clubs.
“We know testing is vital in our defence against coronavirus. Bringing tests to local people is helping people to isolate more quickly if they have it, and stopping the spread. Please remember despite being in a national lockdown you are allowed to leave your house to go for a test.”
Latest figures show that the seven-day rate of coronavirus cases in the city is 386.5 per 100,000 people, for the week 7 January to 13 January. This figure is down 14.1 per cent on the previous seven days. The percentage of people who have had a test and tested positive is 12.9 per cent. Although cases are widespread, Hanley, Longton and Tunstall wards are the areas with the highest rates.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “Whilst we are seeing our rate slowly decline and our positivity rate is down to 12.9% which is encouraging, the NHS is still under a huge amount of pressure, we all need to play our part by staying home. We must not forget the basics, if you do need to leave your house for an essential reason, remember hands, face, space.
“Our mass testing rollout is continuing over in the next few weeks and we will soon have a further 10 venues open for testing. Despite the further new about the vaccine acceleration today, testing is still vitally important.”
For the latest information on council services and support during the coronavirus, and frequently asked questions, please visit www.stoke.gov.uk/coronavirus. For latest health advice on the coronavirus, please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus, and for further information on the virus visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated. If residents have symptoms, please get tested. All residents must continue to follow the guidance of wash hands, cover face and make space.
For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.