Concerns over public shunning rapid Covid-19 tests as cases tumble in Northamptonshire
Twice-weekly swabs will play vital role as restrictions are lifted, warns health chief
Health chiefs are puzzled by recent falls in numbers of rapid Covid-19 tests being taken in Northamptonshire.
The county's Public Health team has launched an online survey in a bid to understand why people are shunning lateral flow device testing.
Northamptonshire saw an average of 16,891 lateral flow device tests recorded per day in mid-March. But that figure tumbled by more than a third per cent to 10,715 during the week to May 2.
These 30-minute tests are aimed at those with no coronavirus symptoms but could still be carrying the virus — around one in three of all those with Covid-19.
■ CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY
They are recommended twice-weekly and available at testing centres across the county, for use at home, in workplaces and in secondary schools.
Public Health director, Lucy Wightman, said: “The survey takes about two minutes and the aim is to find out what residents and those working in Northamptonshire know about lateral flow device testing and whether they are taking up the opportunity for testing at home.
"We want to ensure that everyone has access to information about the tests and are able to easily obtain them.
"It is also important for us to understand why people may not be taking tests.
"The information will be used to inform decision making when it comes to locating future testing sites and to help improve and target our messages to encourage the public to test on a regular basis."
May 17 is the target date for the next easing of restrictions nationally, allowing bigger gatherings outdoors, some mixing indoors — including in pubs, cinemas and hotels and at weddings.
More rules are due to be relaxed from June 21 with the promise of a return to normaility, although many experts have warned measures such as social distancing and testing may need to continue for some time to come.
Average numbers of lab-confirmed positive tests have also fallen to around 27 a day across Northamptonshire from a peak of 710 in early January.
But Mrs Wightman added: "Getting into the habit of regular rapid testing as part of our everyday lives will play an important role as restrictions are cautiously lifted and we begin to get back to more normal ways of life.
I can’t stress enough how important testing is. It’s the only way we can continue to track, contain and control the virus. It’s the only way we can reduce the risk of coming out of lockdown and live relatively normal lives in the coming months.”
Supervised rapid Covid testing is available at community-based locations at Brackley Leisure Centre, Corby Lodge Park, Daventry Leisure Centre, Kettering North Park Pavillion, Northampton Sessions House, County Hall and Rushden Hall Park.
Test packs can also be ordered online and collected from a number of locations across the county.
■ Anyone with any of the known coronavirus symptoms — a high temerpature, new or continuous cough or loss or change in sense of taste, should self-isolate immediately and book a PCR swab test HERE.