People who must risk leaving their homes and mixing with others during lockdown are being urged to keep getting repeated tests for Covid-19 within the Liverpool City Region.
The successful Liverpool pilot to deliver SMART testing was rolled-out across the City Region just before Christmas; to target everyone in the area and find positive people who were not showing symptoms.
However, with a national lockdown in place and most people urged to stay home, the 20 non-symptomatic sites across the City Region are now being used to target key workers, and those who have to mix with others because of either paid, or unpaid, caring commitments.
Although people often see key workers as emergency or “blue light” staff the LCR pilot is aimed at everyone who has to continue mixing because of their job role. This includes both public and private sector workers such as essential shop and supermarket staff, taxi drivers, postal workers and many other key services that we continue to rely on during lockdown.
The leaders of the six City region Local Authorities and Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, are urging people in such roles to continue coming forward for the rapid test.
“SMART” testing refers to Systematic, Meaningful, Asymptomatic, Repeated Testing, and around 250,000 people have now been tested as part of the pilot. Repeatedly testing those who have no symptoms, in a targeted way, has helped to keep infection numbers lower than many other areas in the North West.
Everyone must continue to be vigilant however as the new variant of Covid-19 is spread more easily than the first. This means that staying home if you can, maintaining a safe distance from others, washing your hands and avoiding touching your face are more important than ever.
Anyone who must mix with others during lockdown, for legitimate work or care reasons, can simply turn-up for rapid, regular and free testing without having symptoms of Covid-19. People taking the test usually get their results within the hour.
In addition to the City Region testing facilities, a new non-symptomatic test centre has also been set-up in Cheshire.
All six Local Authorities in the Liverpool City Region (Liverpool, Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral) are taking part in the pilot programme.
In a joint statement, the Metro Mayor, Acting Mayor of Liverpool and Local Authority Leaders, said:
“The last thing any of us wanted to see in the New Year was another national lockdown. However, we have seen the figures, showing the number of people contracting the virus and the number of people now in hospital as a result of Covid-19.
“Sadly, we have also seen the number of deaths to Covid-19 increase as well. So, I would urge everyone to stay at home where they can and continue to get the basics of hands, space, face, right.
“There are of course many heroes who must continue to work throughout a lockdown, and these are not just contained to health and emergency workers. We want to ensure that, with this opportunity to carry out free, repeated, and rapid testing in the City Region, that we encourage as many of those people to come forward.
“We have people who work in essential retail, schools, nursing homes, local authorities and transport, and many more besides, who are keeping our vital services running throughout this national lockdown.
“We want to make sure that they are as protected as possible while helping us to continue with the essential services and provisions we need. Our thanks go to everyone who risks their own health to keep providing these services and do everything we can to keep them safe and keep them getting tested.”
Executive Director of Sefton Council, Andrea Watts, who is helping to co-ordinate the LCR testing pilot, added:
“SMART is a huge opportunity for the Liverpool City Region and I’ve no doubt that we can continue to identify key workers and carers who may be Covid positive without showing symptoms throughout the lockdown.
“Targeted repeat testing, two or three times a week, of these groups can make a real difference to the way we live-through and exit out of lockdown while the roll out the vaccine continues.
“Together, we can keep testing those key workers who do not have symptoms – while of course still being extra cautious around ensuring we do the basics – hands, space, face.
For more information on when and how testing is available in your area, and an interactive map of non-symptomatic testing locations, please visit your Local Authority website or go to www.liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk.