Here are potential Covid-19 testing centres that could be set up in Hampshire

THE next stage in containing Covid-19 is about to begin as a list of venues that could be turned into Covid testing centres has been unveiled.

Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 1:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 7:31 am

Hampshire residents could have access to rapid Covid tests as early as next Monday, it has been revealed.

The government is currently considering a bid for the roll out of a six-week mass testing programme across Hampshire.

Portsmouth City Council has unveiled the Guildhall as its testing base.

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These sites are being considered as Covid-19 testing centres. Picture: Sarah Standing (010221-1951)

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Hampshire County Council bosses said plans for its area are yet to be approved, but a list of the proposed testing sites has now been revealed, and they include The Thorngate Halls in Gosport, Fareham College and Havant Library.

Other proposed sites in the Hampshire County Council area include South Ham Library in Basingstoke; Alton Sports Centre; The Point in Eastleigh; Hart District Council offices; Totton Health and Leisure Centre; Picket Twenty Sports Ground near Andover; Winchester Discovery Centre and Farnborough Leisure Centre.

The testing will be available for critical workers and those who have to leave home for work and who are not covered by existing workplace testing schemes. It will be by appointment only.

A lateral flow test. Picture: Shutterstock

It would include those who work in supermarkets, childminders, transport and construction workers as well as volunteers and primary school teachers.

They would all have access to lateral flow tests, which use a self-administered swab of the nose and throat, which is then tested.

The test centres re not for those who have symptoms, who will use existing testing sites. This scheme aims to identify asymptomatic people in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Helen Atkinson, director of public health at Portsmouth City Council

Residents will be invited to get tested every three to five days throughout the six-week programme.

Those who test positive will be asked to self-isolate.

Helen Atkinson, the director of public health at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘We've picked the Guildhall for testing asymptomatic testing for critical workers as it’s such a central location, has the space to allow for social distancing while testing takes place, offers links to public transport and there is plenty of nearby parking to help keep the process as swift as possible for those attending.

‘I know it may seem like a big ask – to attend twice a week for testing when you feel fine – but it's one of the most important contributions you can now make during this pandemic to help you and your family and your entire community get back to normal as soon as possible.

Thorngate Halls in Gosport

"This virus doesn't always show symptoms, and we now know that one in three people get the virus with no ill effects. So you could unknowingly spread the virus to someone more at risk. I urge all eligible critical workers – those not part of other asymptomatic testing – to get tested regularly now we have the asymptomatic testing site in Portsmouth. If you are eligible you will soon be informed by your employer.

"Tests take about 10 minutes and there is no need to wait for results if attendees have a smart device. For anyone without access to a smart device when attending, we'll be able to help you with registration when you arrive."

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘I’m very pleased that our joint bid to run community testing for our local critical workers was successful. This testing programme will undoubtedly save lives and protect countless people from spreading and catching the virus. This will also make a huge difference to the pressure on our local NHS.

‘I cannot stress strongly enough the need for the critical workers to take this opportunity to get tested regularly. We also need employers to do everything they possibly can to encourage and enable their vital workforce to attend.

‘I'd like to thank the team at the Guildhall who have enabled us to get this community testing facility up and running quickly and efficiently.’

The county council area list was revealed during a meeting of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board held on Tuesday.

Havant Library in The Meridian Centre in Elm Lane, Havant. Picture: Sarah Standing (090120-4674)

Simon Bryant, the director of public health for Hampshire, said the move will help break the chain of infection.

He said: ‘We are really excited that the programme is there. We are waiting for that approval. We know that a third of the population would have coronavirus without knowing it. That really would help us understand that asymptomatic population.’

Councillor Judith Grajewski, the county council’s executive member for public health, said: ‘The provision of fast, free coronavirus tests for people going out to work will help to drive down transmission rates and protect those most at risk from coronavirus. Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly and breaking chains of transmission.’

The NHS in Hampshire has now moved on to vaccinations for people aged 65-69, after vaccinations were offered to everyone in the top four priority groups.

For more information go to nhs.uk/covid-vaccination.

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A student from Highbury College about to undertake a Covid test