Testing

There has been another sharp increase in Covid rates over the last couple of weeks. Combined Intelligence for Population Health Action (CIPHA) data is showing a large increase in the infection rate per 100,000.

Hospital Covid admissions have also increased with circa 24% of total bed capacity occupied by Covid patients, and the strong advice is to stay home and avoid any unnecessary contact

Key workers and carers who do not have symptoms and must leave the home to carry out their duties are being encouraged to get regularly tested at non-symptomatic testing sites.


Cheshire & Merseyside NHS/PHE Testing (Pillar 1)

  • Pillar 1: Pillar 1 capacity has been extended following the introduction of new rapid testing units which are being used in Emergency Departments and other frontline units. Lateral flow devices are being used in some EDs for screening to protect limited PCR test resources. Capacity will increase further as supply and equipment issues for the new testing platforms are resolved.  Liverpool Clinical Labs (LCL) are supporting the LAMP test rollout for regular testing of asymptomatic frontline workers. There is still significant capacity within the system, however redeployment of biomedical scientists to the new testing centre from other laboratories is becoming an issue due to lack of trained staff. If staff cannot be released it may jeopardise LAMP testing capacity.

Commercial Testing (Pillar 2)

  • Pillar 2 Testing Capacity: Across all sites, capacity is running under on average at under 50% utilisation. In theory capacity exists, but this is now in the context of a third lockdown. Testing is categorised as an emergency requirement but with information showing the CV19-variant as being highly transmissible, encouraging people to undertake testing is challenging. Preparations are well under way for emergency stocks of LFT kits (circa 300k) to be available across C&M by this week, with specific caveats for their access. To be based in Liverpool Central for Merseyside and Cheshire East for both Cheshire East & West, and Warrington.
  • Regional Testing Centres (RTCs): The total number of tests undertaken at the RTCs for the period 30th December 2020 to 5th January 2021 is 11,187 (source: Regional Dashboard).
  • Satellite Testing Centres (STCs): The total number of swabs taken at our three STCs for the period 30th December 2020 to 5th January 2021 (source: Regional Dashboard) is 172. The Wirral STC closed on Sunday 20th The courier service will continue to deliver to/collect from, the Birkenhead Medical Centre until the end of January 2021.
  • Mobile Testing Sites (MTU): The allocation of MTSs to Places has been delayed. There will now be nine MTUs available, one for each borough. The reserve C&M vehicle has now been cancelled by DHSC and any additional support required will be provided through the strategic reserve. During the Christmas period a number of MTUs could not be deployed due to bad weather. MTU utilisation is averaging below 50%. Information from DHSC clarified that MTUs could be used for both pedestrian only as well as pedestrian/vehicular mixed, usage, not just vehicular usage. The current MTU schedule is provided below.
  • Local Testing Sites (LTSs): 29,937 tests were carried out by LTSs between 28th December 2020 and 3rd January 2021. The region has 25 live LTSs. Feasibility work is being carried out to see if a LTS can be deployed in South Liverpool. The LTS for Warrington Birchwood is due for survey 11th January and build 13th January, dates to be confirmed at time of writing. DHSC are now applying more stringent criteria to potential LTS sites.

Systematic, Meaningful, Asymptomatic, Repeated Testing (SMART) Programme

  • The Liverpool City Region Mass Testing pilot continues with all 20 non-symptomatic sites across the LCR operational and focussed on key workers following the announcement of the national lockdown.
  • SMART Testing is also being used in Cheshire with a new site that went live in Cheshire last week
  • Lateral Flow Testing: Lateral Flow testing is now live in all C&M Local Authorities, and therefore this has been handed over from the project team to Local Authorities and DHSC for business as usual operations for local management. The remaining items which we will continue to have a regional focus on are Self-Testing i.e. person completes the whole testing process on themselves which is currently with the MHRA for approval of this pathway which we are still awaiting a response on.
  • NHS Staff Testing through Lateral Flow: NHS staff testing is now well underway and on a business as usual footing.  Work is in progress for this testing to be carried out using Lateral Flow Tests. 
  • Saliva Testing (LAMP): We formally launched the LAMP Laboratory this week in Liverpool University Foundation Trust. This had taken us longer than originally anticipated, however now that it’s launched this will provide our region with the opportunity of utilising saliva testing for weekly screening of NHS Acute and Specialist workforces (something only available to approximately 20% of Trusts nationally). We have conversations line up with Acute and Specialist Trusts across C&M to commence discussions and preparations for the wider rollout of LAMP to these Trusts over the course of February and March.

Performance Data

  • Pillar 1 Test Data: The data this week covers the period 28th December 2020 – 3rd January 2021, 16,748 tests have been completed (1,405 staff and 15,343 patients).
  • Pillar 2 Test Data: For period 28th December 2020 – 3rd January 2021, a total of 56,723 Pillar 2 tests were undertaken.

MTU Deployments

Please click here to see the latest MTU deployment table.