Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, has hailed the opening of a “valuable” new Local Test Site at the Alton Park Road Car Park in Clacton (CO15 1ED). The decision was announced in a letter from Lord Bethell, Minister for Innovation at the Department of Health and Social Care.
Expected to open to the public today (30th April 2021), this site forms part of an effort to open more ‘walk-through’ Local Test Sites across the UK, which are easily accessible by foot or by bicycle. These sites complement the regional drive-through testing network across the UK as well as at home testing, both of which can be booked through the government’s online portal. Mobile Testing Units are also travelling the UK, responding to increased regional demand for testing, and supporting hard to reach areas.
Before selecting this site, the Department of Health and Social Care engaged with local government and public health stakeholders to narrow down the location and identify a suitable site. In order to reach a decision, Ministers considered which site was most suitable for best supporting communities in the Clacton constituency.
This local expansion of testing supports the existing NHS and Public Health England infrastructure, which has greatly increased its testing capacity since the coronavirus pandemic began. This also supports the government’s commitment to expand local direction of national testing resources and moving to a more locally owned and delivered testing model.
Free and accessible testing is a cornerstone of the NHS Test and Trace service which brings together testing, contact tracing and outbreak management. This helps prevent the spread of the virus, protect local communities and save lives. The NHS Test and Trace service have processed more than 151 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began. Additionally, the service has contacted and identified over 8.1 million people as recent close contacts since the service began on 28th May 2020. This helps us get back to the things we love and enables people to see more of their friends and family, get businesses back on their feet and people in jobs.
Overall, across the UK, testing capacity has been expanded to more than 600,000 tests a day. Anyone experiencing a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste should book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus, by calling 119, or using the NHS Covid-19 app.
In England, anyone testing positive for the virus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them track their contacts. This will help people to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission.
Speaking about the testing site, Giles said:
“While we continue to make staggering progress with the vaccine rollout, both locally and nationally, we cannot take our eye of the ball with the spread of this terrible virus. This local site, which has been carefully selected to best service our communities, will help us in our efforts to track and contain any potential exposures.
“This is a big step forward for our area and I have been pushing for the rollout of this additional testing capacity in my discussions with Ministers and local healthcare leaders. If you have any symptoms, please make use of this valuable new local resource and book a test.”