Published Wednesday, 24th February 2021
From 01 March, people unable to work from home during national restrictions will be able to get tested in Redhill.
- Targeted (symptom free) community testing initiative expands in Surrey to include Redhill site as well as select pharmacies in the borough – to further drive down transmission rates
- Initiative aimed at protecting people most at risk – those who are not able to work from home during national restrictions
- Project led by Surrey County Council, using rapid turnaround tests supplied by NHS Test and Trace, supported by Reigate & Banstead Borough Council
The targeted community testing initiative, in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care, was first launched in parts of Surrey on 15 February. From 01 March, eligible people will also be able to get tested in Redhill, at the Harlequin Theatre & Cinema. Appointments are also available at select pharmacies in Reigate, Merstham, Tadworth and Banstead.
Around one in three people who are infected with Covid-19 have no symptoms so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly, and break chains of transmission.
With its targeted approach, Surrey’s community testing programme is aimed at adults who cannot work from home during national restrictions. Regular symptom-free testing will help reduce the prevalence of the virus in the highest risk areas. Twice-weekly is recommended.
All the testing sites in Surrey will receive the lateral flow tests, provided by NHS Test and Trace, as part of a programme to enable local public health leaders to start testing residents who are permitted to leave their home to go to work during national lockdown restrictions.
Rapid-turnaround lateral flow tests provide results within an hour and will be used to proactively test symptom-free individuals. Lateral flow devices do not require a laboratory to process the test.
Testing will be available for all eligible adults in Surrey without symptoms in Redhill from 01 March. Importantly, people will not need to isolate while waiting for the results of the symptom-free test. Unless individuals develop symptoms, they will only need to isolate if they are notified of a positive test result.
Other sites in Surrey are already operational and more will be added over the coming weeks. Full details of who is eligible as well as how and where to get a test, can be accessed via Surrey’s website.
All efforts to find people without symptoms work hand in hand with the existing free testing service for those with symptoms. Anyone with one or more of these symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste – should book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
Leader of Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, Mark Brunt said: “We are delighted to be able to offer the Harlequin Theatre & Cinema to play its part as a testing site, supporting our partners at Surrey County Council with this important initiative. The Harlequin in Redhill has been at the centre of efforts to support our residents throughout the COVID-19 outbreak and its latest role will be critical to supporting the COVID-19 recovery in the borough.
“Symptom free testing is a vital tool to help identify people who have the virus but are not aware – and to stop them from passing it on. It is fantastic for our residents and businesses to have this facility locally.
“We are so grateful to the hundreds of our residents who continue to volunteer their time to the collective battle against coronavirus. Most recently many volunteers have been assisting at vaccination sites, and from next week, some will also help with the symptom free testing in Redhill. It is an incredible testament to the community spirit present in our borough.”
Ruth Hutchinson, Surrey’s Director of Public Health said: “Symptom-free testing for people who are still going into their workplace during national restrictions is one of the most effective ways of ensuring our infection rate continues to drop in Surrey.
“Targeted Community Testing will help us to break the chain of transmission by identifying people who have no symptoms of Covid-19, and would otherwise be out and about in the community, potentially spreading the virus further.
“Thank you to everyone in Surrey for your tremendous efforts over the past year to keep this virus at bay. Let’s keep doing everything we can to get our rates down and keep Surrey safe.”