Mass testing is one of the key weapons in the fight against Covid-19 and uses lateral flow test technology which provides results in as little as 30 minutes.
It was piloted in Liverpool recently, helping to drive down infection rates there dramatically – and health and council chiefs hope it will have the same impact in Wolverhampton, cutting the number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths and enabling the city to move out of Tier 3 restrictions more quickly.
Testing for people without symptoms of Covid-19 will be available at the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Civic Centre from 8am to 7pm weekdays and 10am to 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays from this Monday. The facility is staffed by volunteers from the council and has the capacity to deliver hundreds of tests each day.
Councillor Ian Brookfield, Leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, said: "We've seen the impact that mass testing has had elsewhere – and we want to emulate that success here in Wolverhampton.
“Testing people without symptoms of Covid-19 is really crucial because it means we can identify cases of the virus among people who don’t realise they’ve got it and, as a result, might be inadvertently passing it on to others, including friends, loved ones and work colleagues.
"They can then be asked to self isolate which will help to break the chain of transmission and reduce the spread of Covid-19.
"If we can get the infection rate down, we will not only cut the number of people catching Covid-19 but also increase the chances of Wolverhampton being able to move out of the Tier 3 restrictions we’re currently subject to more quickly, which would be a win-win for everyone.
"I'd urge you all to play your part by coming down to the Civic Centre and getting a test; it's quick, free and you'll have your results inside the hour.
“Chances are you won’t have Covid-19 but, if it turns out you do, you will be able to take the necessary steps to protect yourself, your loved ones and the wider community.”
He added: “This is a huge undertaking for the council and I am proud of the way we have risen to the challenge to offer mass testing to the people of Wolverhampton.
“More than 100 colleagues from the council and our partner organisations have been trained up to help us deliver this operation, with more joining us in the coming days, and we’ve gone from moving into Tier 3 on Wednesday to being able to convert our Civic Centre into a rapid testing facility just a few days later, which is an incredible achievement for all concerned.”
Please note, only people without Covid-19 symptoms should attend the Civic Centre. Anyone with symptoms – a fever, a new continuous cough or a change to their sense of taste or smell – must self isolate and book a test at one of the regular Covid-19 test centres in Wolverhampton via GOV.UK or by calling 119 as normal.
John Denley, Wolverhampton’s Director of Public Health, added: "Thanks to everyone’s continuing efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19, we have started to see infection rates come down over the last couple of weeks.
“But they remain high and Covid-19 remains a real and present danger. Hundreds of people are still catching the virus each week and, tragically, it is continuing to claim lives.
"Mass testing offers us the chance to really take the fight to the virus by breaking the chain of transmission. So please play your part, have a test and help us push infection rates right down so that we can get life back to normal as quickly as we can."
He added: "Mass testing is just one element of our wider strategy to defeat this virus, which also includes protecting our most vulnerable, contact tracing and encouraging compliance with the Government's Covid-19 regulations."
Latest data shows there were 249.48 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the 7 days to 1 December. That means 656 people in the city tested positive for the virus in that 7 day period – though the true number of new cases will likely be considerably higher.
The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages. Details of the Tier 3 Very High Alert restrictions currently in place, and the answers to frequently asked questions, are available at Covid Alert.