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Royal Borough rapid test centres to fight against COVID-19 spread

The Royal Borough is set to significantly up its COVID-19 testing capacity over the coming days and will soon offer rapid testing for those who are unable to work from home.

On Friday, a new walk-in test centre opened up in the car park of the old Magnet Leisure Centre, and plans are in motion to open two rapid test centres in the borough for people who work in public facing roles but cannot work from home.

This comes as COVID-19 cases continue to fall in the Royal Borough. In the seven days from Wednesday, January 20 to Tuesday, January 26, 428 people tested positive for the virus, 166 fewer than the previous week.

In the same period, 24 people have died, compared to 34 the week before.

In the borough, around 45 per cent of all coronavirus cases are transmitted from unknown sources, and the council suspect asymptomatic carriers are responsible for many of these infections.

Set to open at Braywick Leisure Centre and Windsor Leisure Centre on Monday, February 8, the new testing centres are designed to identify people who are carrying the virus but show no symptoms.

Once the testing sites are up and running, workers who cannot work from home will be able to visit the centres twice a week for a 30-minute lateral flow test.

If they test positive, they will need to self-isolate.

David Scott, Royal Borough head of communities, who is leading the roll-out in the borough, said: “It’s not a free for all, it’s not for anyone that fancies a test, they have to be part of the public-facing workforce that can’t work from home and have contact with the public.

“They can come twice a week so they could constantly know they are not carriers.”

He added: “It’s important that we try and find these people that are asymptomatic so we can take them out of the system and break the cycle of infection.”

The two test centres will have the capacity to conduct 22,000 tests per week.

When they open in February, the aim is to slowly build up to this number over about four weeks.

The lateral flow tests will work with patients conducting a swab of themselves under supervision, before passing the test onto staff who will return a result after 30 minutes.

The centres are set to be open for 12 weeks, but Mr Scott expects this will be extended.

A similar test centre has opened in Slough, with around two per cent of those taking the test returning a positive result, helping to keep asymptomatic carriers away from the public and reducing the risk of spreading the virus.

A third testing site is also planned in Ascot, which will be run by Bracknell Forest Council.

While these centres are for people with no symptoms, those who are suffering from a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss or change to sense of smell or taste can now book a coronavirus test in central Maidenhead.

A walk-in testing centre has opened up in the car park of the Magnet Leisure Centre, in Holmanleaze, where those who suspect they may have the virus can go and get a test.

Anyone who tests positive will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and asked to self-isolate.

Those being tested must follow public health measures by social distancing, not travelling to the site by taxi or public transport and wearing a face covering on their journey and at the facility.

To book a test call 119 or visit nhs.uk/coronavirus

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