The Government is phasing out free rapid testing – for people without symptons of Covid-19 – for the majority of individuals in England from the end of this month.
As a result, the rapid test centres, at the Civic Centre and Jamia Masjid Bilal, are closing today. Home test kit collection points have also closed, though kits can be ordered online via Coronavirus (COVID‑19) until tomorrow, subject to availability.
The Department for Health and Social Care's PCR test sites, for people with symptoms of Covid-19, will also close tonight (Wednesday 30 March).
John Denley, Wolverhampton's Director of Public Health, said: "The Civic Centre and the Jamia Masjid Bilal, as well as the other test centres that have been open at various stages throughout the pandemic, have played a vital role in the fight against Covid-19, helping identify cases in people without symptoms of the virus and breaking the chain of transmission, and I would like to thank everyone who has worked at them in that time.
"As part of its plan to live with Covid-19, the Government says that most people in England no longer need to take a rapid test and, from next month, it will only provide free testing to certain individuals, though anyone can purchase rapid test kits from various high street pharmacies.
"Despite this, it's important to recognise that the Covid-19 pandemic is not over. The virus still poses a real risk, particularly as infections continue to rise following the removal of the remaining restrictions a few weeks ago.
"We ask those who remain eligible for free regular asymptomatic testing to take up the offer, and strongly encourage everyone else to take a rapid test if they feel they have developed symptoms of Covid-19, or they are planning to meet up with more vulnerable people.
"Vaccines remain the best defence against serious illness from Covid-19, and spring boosters are now being offered to over 75s, care home residents and the most vulnerable – so if you are due a jab, whether its your first, second or a booster, please come forward as soon as you can to help protect yourself, your family and your community.
"And please consider the vulnerability of others by continuing to wear face coverings in crowded areas such as shops and on public transport if you possibly can, and keeping indoor spaces well ventilated."
From Friday (1 April), symptomatic rapid testing will remain free for some patients in hospital, people eligible for community Covid-19 treatments and people living or working in high-risk settings, such as NHS workers, staff in adult social care services, residents in care homes, extra care and supported living services, and those working and living in hospices, prisons and places of detention where infection needs to be identified quickly to minimise outbreaks.
Asymptomatic rapid testing will remain free for staff working in some high-risk settings, including patient-facing staff in the NHS and providers, staff in hospices and adult social care services, some prisons, places of detention, domestic abuse refuges and homelessness settings. In addition, testing will be provided for care home staff and residents during an outbreak, and for care home residents upon admission.
Also from Friday, updated guidance will advise people with symptoms of a respiratory infection, including Covid-19, and a high temperature or who feel unwell, to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until they feel well enough to resume normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature. Until Friday, individuals should continue to follow the current guidance.
And from Friday, anyone with a positive Covid-19 test result will be advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days, which is when they are most infectious.
Advice will be provided for individuals who need to leave their home when they have symptoms or have tested positive, including avoiding close contact with people with a weakened immune system, wearing a face covering and avoiding crowded places.
Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people, where they can. They can go back to school, college or childcare when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend.
For full details of the changes, please visit Coronavirus (COVID‑19).
There were 648.6 new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the last 7 days. That means 1,705.9 people tested positive for the virus in that same period – though the true number of cases will likely be higher.