Proactive swabbing for coronavirus has begun in care homes across the Black Country and West Birmingham – and will be rolled out to all settings in the coming weeks.

Proactive swabbing of residents got underway in the most ‘high risk’ settings on Thursday, which compliments the ongoing swabbing offered to health and care workers. The tests are being processed at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust pathology lab at New Cross Hospital.

Speaking on behalf of the 4 Black Country Directors of Public Health, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Director of Public Health John Denley said: “We are moving towards earlier identification and treatment of cases of coronavirus so that we can protect the most vulnerable members of our community, and the proactive swabbing which is now underway in our region’s care homes is an essential part of this.

“We want to provide resilience, contingency and support for the most vulnerable members of our community, both during and after the coronavirus emergency, and to reduce the risk of an outbreak as far as we possibly can.

“Proactive swabbing in care homes began last week and we’ve already identified a number of cases which will enable us to manage them more appropriately.

“We are specifically targeting homes deemed to be at higher risk first, but our aim is to roll out swabbing to all care homes across the Black Country as soon as possible.

“This is a really vulnerable part of our population and we need to support both residents and staff as much as possible. Swabbing and testing forms part of a broader package of help offered by local councils, clinical commissioning groups and NHS trusts, including support and guidance to prevent outbreaks occurring and ensuring the right PPE is available to frontline staff.

“In the meantime, we all continue to have a role to play in preventing the spread of coronavirus, and that’s why it’s crucial that everyone follows the Government's social distancing measures and stays at home unless absolutely necessary.”

Sally Roberts, Chief Nurse for the Black Country and West Birmingham CCGs, said: “Our teams across the NHS are pleased to be working with care homes and our local authorities to identify cases of coronavirus.

“It is important that we do all we can to protect those most vulnerable in our communities and supporting care homes with proactive testing is the latest way we are doing that. Once cases are identified we can better ensure the safety of others in the care home setting.”