Residents who live in Moorcroft, Etruria, Hanley and Tunstall are being urged to get tested for COVID-19 following a spike in positive cases.
Although cases are widespread, latest figures show that these wards are the areas with the highest rates.
14,000 community testing appointments will be available next week across 15 venues. Blurton Community Hub and Hazel Trees Duke Street will open Thursday, February 18 and Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre will open Friday, February 19. Residents across the city are urged to book a test regularly going forward.
The seven-day rate of coronavirus cases in the city is 234.8 per 100,000 people, for the week 31 January to 6 February. The percentage of people who have had a test and tested positive is 9.4 per cent. Trends show the coronavirus case rate for those over 60’s is starting to increase.
This comes as the first case of the South African variant of COVID-19, with no links to international travel, has now been identified in Staffordshire. The resident of Stafford borough tested positive in January and the South African variant was picked up as part of routine laboratory screening. They have recovered and contact tracing has established that the resident had no known contact with people in their local area whilst infectious and no links to other areas where cases have been identified.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “It is fantastic that we now have 15 venues open across the city for residents to get tested at. We have made testing accessible to all communities across Stoke-on-Trent, whether you can only get to a test centre at the weekend, early mornings or after the working day, you can now get a test. Booking a test on our website is quick and easy and the process of getting a test at one of our locations takes less than 5 minutes and you get your results within 30 minutes.
“Residents who need to be out and about in Stoke-on-Trent during the lockdown should be getting regular COVID-19 tests, even if they don’t have symptoms. One in three people have covid but don’t show any sign of the three main symptoms and that’s why regular testing is one of our main defences against this deadly virus. Keep your friends, colleagues and families safe by getting tested.”
Residents are reminded if they test positive and have to self-isolate for 10 days support is available to them. If a resident is told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app, they may be entitled to a payment of £500 from the city council through the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. Residents can apply for this payment at www.stoke.gov.uk.
There are a range of brilliant support services across the city that can help with a wide range of issues residents may be facing during the pandemic. Residents can visit www.stoke.gov.uk/supportservices to find out more information.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “We have made really good progress in recent weeks but we need our case rate to be down further and we need more people get tested. Our positivity rate is rising and it is worrying that our case rate for the over 60’s has increased. This may be due to grandparents looking after grandchildren, intergenerational spread in households and residents in that age bracket still going out to work.
“The first case of the South African variant of COVID-19, with no links to international travel, has been identified in Staffordshire. While there is currently no evidence of the South African variant circulating in the community, this should act as a reminder to people they should be getting tested regularly. People must still follow all of the coronavirus guidance to control the virus - you must stay home to protect the NHS and save lives.”
The city council has written a further letter to businesses across the city with the offer of free, rapid result testing. Businesses in Stoke-on-Trent have the opportunity to roll out COVID-19 testing for their employees. By joining the programme businesses in the city will be playing a key role in protecting their workforce and the wider community.
Council leader Abi Brown continued: “The role business owners can play in helping to drive coronavirus out of Stoke-on-Trent is critical. Until we can drive the rates down much further it is unlikely that there can be much serious relaxing of the lockdown and this will prevent any chance of the business sector being able to return to any form of normal operation.
“More recently, we have found that many cases of coronavirus are being directly linked to workplaces. No matter the size of the business, they can help play a vital role in our continuous battle to keep this deadly disease at bay. This will help to make sure that any cases are caught early and the risk of spread is reduced. I urge all businesses to get in touch with us.”
If businesses would like to register their interest or arrange a further discussion, they should get in touch by emailing LFTEnquiries@stoke.gov.uk.
Meanwhile on Sunday (February 14) at Tunstall Vaccination centre which is run by Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust slots will now be made available for health and social care staff and members of the public who are in the first four cohorts and have not yet received their vaccination, but also to any in the next cohorts who may have already received their letter.
This week the site has seen a reduction of people booking on for their vaccination. The reason for this is the vast majority of the eligible workforce and the over 70 cohorts have already been vaccinated at the hospital hub, vaccination centre or are booked on at local vaccination sites. The Trust are confident that the city will meet the target of vaccinating the cohorts required by February 15.
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.