I’m acutely aware that there is a need to break the chain of transmission of the COVID-19 virus in our communities. To meet this need, I’m pleased to tell you that Barnsley is to be part of a South Yorkshire wide, targeted rapid testing pilot.
This is an expansion of the same pilot that the Government announced for Doncaster. It's important to all four South Yorkshire areas that we look at this as a whole region, so our plans and discussions with the Government have reflected this.
The pilot will look at targeted rapid testing using lateral flow test kits. This rapid form of testing is different from the usual swab kits used in testing centres and provides an inbuilt test result within an hour without the need for lab processing.
The challenge we currently face is that some people who have COVID-19 don't show any symptoms. This means that they're spreading the virus to other, potentially vulnerable people. Rapid testing using the lateral flow tests means we can test high-risk groups in our region, helping us to identify cases and getting people to self-isolate quickly to break the chain of infection.
Even though access to more testing is a positive step forward, it's so important that we all continue to follow the basics:
- Hands - wash your hands regularly.
- Face - wear a face covering and wear it correctly.
- Space - don't be a contact and follow social distancing guidance.
- If you have symptoms such as a new continuous cough, a fever or loss of taste or smell isolate straight away and book a test.
- Isolate immediately if you are told to do so.
We're developing plans on how targeted rapid testing can work at a local level and which groups of people would benefit from this. Once we have these, we'll share them with you.