More testing for Covid-19 underway in North Tyneside
Door-to-door Covid-19 testing is to take place in targeted areas of North Tyneside from today (Wednesday).
North Tyneside Council is working with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to deliver PCR tests to some households in a number of targeted areas, starting with parts of North Shields, Wallsend and Whitley Bay.
These areas have been identified as having positive cases for the Covid-19 variant first discovered in India.
Officials say the additional door-to-door testing is being carried out in order to gather more information and effectively monitor community transmission.
Targeted door-to-door testing is in addition to enhanced testing already underway in North Tyneside and extra vaccine services now available.
Everyone over the age of 12 in households which are visited is asked to take a test even if they have no symptoms of Covid-19; have been vaccinated; or have tested positive previously.
Wendy Burke, North Tyneside Director of Public Health, said: “It is really important that everyone who is visited at their home takes the test, regardless of whether they have Covid-19 symptoms or not, to help us find out if and where the virus is spreading and whether there are any more cases of the variant.
“PCR tests are different from the rapid lateral flow tests you might already be using at home as they are sent off to a lab to be checked, so they are more accurate in identifying positive cases and finding any new strains or patterns in virus behaviour.
“This door-to-door testing is in addition to the enhanced testing offer and increased availability of vaccinations currently available in the borough, which we’re encouraging people to take advantage of.”
Peter Heath, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are working closely with our colleagues at North Tyneside Council on this vital community safety activity to help deliver the door-to-door Covid testing to residents in the area.
"The experience and additional skills that our staff have gained over the past 12 months will be vital to the successful delivery of this operation, and the ultimate end result being the safety of people living and working in North Tyneside and the surrounding areas.”
The latest Covid-19 case rate in North Tyneside is 55 per 100,000 in the last week.
To date there have been around 40 confirmed cases of the variant, first identified in India, found in parts of the borough but case numbers are expected to increase as more people are tested.
Surge testing sites for people without Covid-19 symptoms are open in three locations – Shiremoor, next to Aldi and Costa; Bedford Street, North Shields; and at Wallsend Forum, behind the Anson pub.
People with symptoms should stay at home and self-isolate immediately and book a test the usual way – online or by calling 119.
The existing test sites at The Parks Leisure Centre in North Shields and the Coronation Street car park in Wallsend should continue to only be used by those with symptoms.
Anyone who tests positive or are contact traced following contact with someone who tests positive should self-isolate immediately.
Meanwhile, people who are eligible but who have not yet had their first vaccine are urged to book as soon as they can.