The first wave of Tier 3 areas due to start community testing programmes as part of the Government’s Covid winter plan include 67 local authorities in England, including Preston, South Ribble, Blackpool, Wyre, Fylde, and Chorley.
More than 1.6 million quick turnaround lateral flow tests will be delivered for use this month and community testing programmes will be given Government support for at least six weeks, said the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Some of the targeted testing is due to start from Monday and the approved areas aim to begin testing this month, the department said.
More than 100 local authorities are “engaged in the community testing programme” DHSC said with more rollouts due to begin in the new year.
In Oldham, Greater Manchester, increased access to rapid testing will initially focus on higher risk supported living settings, health and social care staff and schools and colleges.
Large manufacturing sites and businesses with workforces of more than 200 people will be tested under plans in Lancashire.
In Kirklees, West Yorkshire, whole-borough community testing and high-risk workplaces will be focused on first.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the enhanced testing programmes follow a successful pilot in Liverpool and will be a “vital additional tool” in finding asymptomatic cases.
He said: “Community testing will be very important in helping the areas where levels of the virus are highest to drive down infection rates and ultimately will help areas ease tougher restrictions.
“This is just the start, and we are working quickly to roll out community testing more widely as soon as more local teams are ready. I urge all those living in areas where community testing is offered to come forward and get tested.”
The department said local authorities can bid for additional testing and support capability “on an ongoing basis” to create a “bespoke testing programme” for their community.
General Sir Gordon Messenger, chief of operations, said: “We want to extend our thanks to the more than 100 local authorities who have engaged so quickly and comprehensively, allowing us to take forward the first stage of the community testing programme, and our operational team will begin to roll these out from as early as next week.
“We continue to work extensively with local authorities on their proposals to expand the programme to more areas over the coming weeks and months, increasing testing services available to communities.”
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Here are the 67 Tier 3 councils which will be among the first to start community coronavirus testing programmes, according to the Department of Health:
• Amber Valley
• Derbyshire Dales
• North East Derbyshire
• South Derbyshire
• Folkestone and Hythe
• Tonbridge and Malling
• Tunbridge Wells
• Blackburn with Darwen
• Ribble Valley
• South Ribble
• West Lancashire
• Cannock Chase
• East Staffordshire
• South Staffordshire
• Staffordshire Moorlands
• North Warwickshire
• Nuneaton and Bedworth