Over 6,100 people have so far taken part in Wolverhampton's rapid testing programme – and people without symptoms of Covid-19 are invited to get a free test to help stop the spread of the virus.

Around 3,000 people attended a pilot scheme last month, while up to yesterday (Wednesday 16 December) 3,129 individuals have had a test at the new rapid testing site which opened last week at the City of Wolverhampton Council's Civic Centre. More sites are being launched this week.

Rapid testing, which uses lateral flow test technology to provide results in under an hour, is seen as one of the key weapons in the fight against Covid-19 as it can identify cases in people who don't have any symptoms of the virus. Please note, it not available to people with symptoms of Covid-19, who must book a regular PCR Covid-19 test, nor to people who have been told to self isolate. 

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "We know that as many as one in 3 people who have coronavirus never show any symptoms of it, but that does not mean they are not infectious.

"If we can find these cases, those who are infected – but don't know it – can self isolate which will in turn help break the chain of transmission at an early stage.

"Around 3% of people who have so far taken the test at the Civic Centre have tested positive and so are now taking the steps they need to take to prevent the virus from spreading to others.

"That's why rapid testing is so important, and that's why we're encouraging as many people as possible to get a test to see whether they are carrying the virus or not."

Rapid testing is available at the Civic Centre between 8am and 7pm, Monday to Friday, and from 10am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday. Amended opening times will be in operation over Christmas and New Year. No appointment is necessary. Free short stay parking is available at St Peters Car Park off Wulfruna Street for people attending the Civic Centre for a test. Please note, the Civic Centre is only open for rapid testing purpose at this time.

A second community rapid test site will open on Friday at the Jamia Masjid Bilal, Newhampton Road West, Whitmore Reans. It will be open every day from 10am to 6.30pm except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and anyone without symptoms is welcome. 

Meanwhile, rapid testing for education staff is being piloted in local primary schools and a ‘Blue Light Hub’ has opened at Fallings Park Fire Station yesterday (Wednesday) offering rapid testing for West Midlands Fire Service and West Midlands Police staff who live or work in Wolverhampton.

Phil Loach, Chief Fire Officer for West Midlands Fire Service, said:  “We have robust control measures in place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 within our service, ensuring we can continue to deliver our core services to our communities. It is still possible, however, that our staff can contract it away from work and show no symptoms.   
“By regularly testing our staff, we can ensure we remain as prepared and healthy as possible to serve our communities. It will also provide an extra level of comfort and reassurance to our staff and their families, as well as our police colleagues.”   

Only people without Covid-19 symptoms should attend rapid testing sites. 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 PCR Covid-19 test centres in Wolverhampton via GOV.UK or by calling 119 as normal.

Latest data shows there were 266.91 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the 7 days to 13 December. That means 702 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. Further details of the Tier 3 Very High Alert restrictions currently in place, and the answers to frequently asked questions, are available at Covid Alert