Local COVID-19 community testing rolled out in Reading

Local community testing began at South Reading Leisure Centre on 10th February and a second community testing site went live at Rivermead Leisure Centre on 15th February – to stop the spread of the virus in Reading.

Around one in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and will be spreading it without realising it. Rapid-turnaround lateral flow tests, use a mouth and/or nose swab, which is placed into a buffer solution, and are designed to find positive cases more quickly to help break the chain of transmission, enabling those who test positive and their contacts to self-isolate, which can help drive down the R rate locally and save lives.

Local community testing is open to essential workers aged over 16 without COVID-19 symptoms and who; cannot work from home, who have contact with service users, and who do not have other access to testing through their employer, including:

• Early years care providers (e.g. nursery staff, childminders)
• Other care providers (e.g. unregistered care providers, PAs, special needs services) 
• Transport providers (e.g. ReadiBus, school transport, taxi drivers)
• Frontline staff delivering Council services
• Frontline staff from charity or voluntary organisations
• Staff, volunteers and leaders from faith settings
• Funeral directors, undertakers and coroners 
• Vets

Eligible workers will be invited by their employer to take part, testing is by appointment only which can be booked at www.reading.gov.uk/CommunityTesting both test sites are open 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday. Workers are encouraged to get tested twice a week every week, leaving at least three days between tests. Testing should take no more than 15 minutes and once you have taken your test you can go home and will receive the result by text message in 30-60 minutes.

If the result is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days along with the rest of your household and inform your employer so they can take steps to protect staff, customers and service users. You will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace via text, email or phone call with instructions of how to share details of people with whom you have had close, recent contact and places you have visited. It is important that you respond quickly and accurately so appropriate advice can be given to those who need it.

Test and Trace Self-Isolation Support Payments of £500 are available for people facing a reduction in income because they cannot work while self-isolating. More information and eligibility criteria for Test and Trace Self-Isolation Payments can be found here: www.reading.gov.uk/covidselfisolationsupportpayment

If the result is negative you can carry on as normal – which means continuing to follow the COVID-19 guidance; washing hands frequently, wearing a mask in indoor spaces, keeping a safe distance and not mixing with other households – and getting tested twice a week. Although the test result may be negative, you could still pick up or transmit the virus after leaving the site.

Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Member for Health said “Asymptomatic testing is vital to help find those who are infected and infectious, and unaware they might be spreading COVID. Roughly one in three people have COVID without symptoms.”

“I urge everyone who is eligible to come forward and get tested regularly, protect your family and colleagues and break the chains of transmission of the virus.”

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “We’ve already come so far since first setting up a national testing programme at an unprecedented pace to help counter COVID-19, but we continue to strive to go further, faster.”

“Around one in three people have the virus without 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.”

“I’m delighted that Reading Borough Council are working with us roll out community testing in Reading, and I look forward to seeing the results.”

Notes to editors

If you and your employer are unsure if you qualify for community testing, you can email CV19notifications@reading.gov.uk to check.

There are two community testing sites in Reading:
• Rivermead Leisure Centre, Richfield Avenue, Reading RG1 8EQ
• South Reading Leisure Centre, Northumberland Avenue, Reading RG2 8DF

Both venues have free parking onsite and you can travel by bike, public transport or on foot. The test sites are open Monday-Friday, 8am-7pm.

When going for a test bring your mobile phone, booking reference and photo ID (e.g. driving license or work ID badge) with you.

When you arrive on site, wear a face covering and follow the instructions on signs and from members of staff.

The type of test is a lateral flow device (LFD). You will go to a bay and do a nose and throat swab sample, then return this to a member of staff.

Once you have taken your test you can go home. You will receive the result by text message within 30-60 minutes.

If your result is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days along with the rest of your household. If anyone develops symptoms, they should get a test through the national system by calling 119 or going to the NHS coronavirus webpage. You should inform your employer of your positive result so they can take the necessary steps to protect staff, customers and service users.

If your result is negative you can carry on as normal – but remember that means you should continue to follow the Covid-19 guidance such as washing hands frequently, wearing a mask in indoor spaces, keeping a safe distance and not mixing with other households. Although your result may be negative now, you could still pick up or transmit the virus after leaving the site. Please continue to go for testing twice a week.

Do not go for a rapid test if you have symptoms of COVID-19 (a cough, temperature or loss of taste or smell). If you have symptoms, you should immediately self-isolate along with your household, and book a test through the national system by calling 119, via the NHS COVID-19 app or online at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test