Students and school staff are being encouraged to carry on taking rapid Covid-19 tests during the half term holidays to prevent a spike in cases when they return to the classroom next month.

Secondary school pupils, and all school staff, have been asked to take a rapid test twice a week throughout the autumn term to identify cases of Covid-19 in people without symptoms and help break the chain of transmission. 

They are now being urged to continue doing this during next week's half-term holidays, and particularly just before returning to school from 1 November, in order to help keep the virus out of the classroom.

Rapid testing is important because around a third of people with Covid-19 don't have any symptoms of the virus, and so could be spreading it unknowingly. 

Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "Everyone has a role to play in stopping the spread of Covid-19 and keeping it out of our schools. 

“Regular testing is an important part of this and we would encourage secondary school pupils and all school staff – who have been asked by the Government to get tested twice a week since the start of term – to carry on doing so during the half-term holidays.

"This is important because they are likely to be mixing with other people over the October break, possibly including extended family and friends, which of course gives the virus more opportunity to spread.

"But by getting tested, particularly just before they head back to school next month, they will be able to ensure themselves and others that they don't have the virus as they return to the classroom."

He added: "I would also urge family members, and indeed everyone else in Wolverhampton, to take a rapid Covid-19 test – it only takes a few minutes and will help not only stop the spread of the virus but also track its prevalence across the city."

People who return a positive rapid test result are reminded they must self-isolate and book a confirmatory PCR test. 

People are no longer required to self-isolate if they live in the same household as, or are a close contact of, someone with Covid-19 if they are below the age of 18 and a half, or are fully vaccinated or cannot have the vaccine for medical reasons. Instead, they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and advised to take a PCR test.

Free walk-in rapid Covid-19 testing is available at the Civic Centre, St Peter's Square, between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday, the Jamia Masjid Bilal, Newhampton Road, from 10am to 7pm daily, and The Hub at Ashmore Park between 9am and 6pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. 

Rapid Covid-19 testing can also be done at home using test kits. These can be picked up from the mobile Covid-19 test unit, Bilston and Wolverhampton Markets, WV Active leisure centres, Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre and from pharmacies offering the Pharmacy Collect service (details at NHS). 

People with symptoms of Covid-19 must self-isolate and book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting GOV.UK

Latest figures show there were 395.2 new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the last 7 days. That means 1,039 people tested positive for the virus in that same period – though the true number of cases will likely be higher.