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11 February 2021
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH – COVID-19 BRIEFING

TARGETED COMMUNITY TESTING NOW LAUNCHED 

Northumberland County Council is now able to offer targeted community testing to key workers at three sites across the county. This targeted community testing is available to key workers who are unable to work from home during the pandemic and do not have access to testing through their employer. Testing will be offered to:  

  • Education or childcare settings including childminders, early years settings and nurseries.  
  • Carers (including informal carers, paid carers and those working for voluntary organisations)  
  • Small or local public or voluntary sector organisations e.g. food banks  
  • Small businesses providing key services e.g. waste management, taxi firms, public transport, funeral directors. 
  • Small businesses (less than 50 staff), sole traders or self-employed people   
  • Medium-sized local businesses (generally businesses between 50 – 250 staff) unable to practically access institutional testing.  

The tests are only available to eligible key workers who are not showing symptoms of Covid-19. Testing sites are now operational at Active Northumberland leisure centres in Ashington,  Alnwick and Hexham where Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) will be used delivering results within 30 minutes. Those being tested will then be informed of their result via either email or text by NHS Test and Trace - the tests must be pre-booked online – there are no walk-in slots.  

Along with Test and Trace and the roll out of the vaccine, this testing programme will help identify hidden infections and is another tool that can be used to bring coronavirus back under control. 

It is hoped that key workers who don’t have the option to work from home will take up this offer and do their bit to help protect their families, colleagues and the communities they work in. 

Those eligible can book a test online. Testing sites are open at:  

  1. Ashington Leisure Centre, Lintonville Terrace, Ashington, NE63 9JY  
  2. Willowburn Leisure Centre, Willowburn Avenue, Alnwick, NE66 2JH  
  3. Wentworth  Leisure Centre, Wentworth Place,  Hexham, NE46 3PD 

The testing centres are open Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm - evenings and weekend appointments will be added in the coming days. 

Anyone testing positive must immediately isolate at home, along with any close contacts. The targeted testing will work alongside the national test and trace system and any positive tests will link to the NHS contact tracing system.   

A negative test doesn’t of course mean that people should remove or replace the need to continue with hygiene and social distancing measures – remember, hands, face, space at all times - we all play a vital role in fighting this pandemic.  

You will also be aware, that this week the Government also announced the introduction of an employer led testing programme, offering free lateral flow testing kits to businesses with over 50 employees. These should only be carried out on employees who are symptom free.  

Of course, if anyone has symptoms - a high temperature, a new or continuous cough, or a loss or change to senses of taste or smell - they MUST get tested.

We have Local Testing Sites (LTS) operating in Blyth, Ashington, Hexham, Berwick, offering PCR testing available to through the national booking system.  

We also have Mobile Testing Units (MTUs) countywide in Morpeth, Alnwick and Cramlington (West Hartford Fire HQ – only available at weekends).  Another MTU supporting North Tyneside but accessible to Northumberland residents also operates out of the Tommee Tippee site in Cramlington.  Again, anyone who needs to access symptomatic testing should book through the national booking system.

Liz Morgan 

Director of Public Health 

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