Unprecedented demand for lateral flow home testing kits, which are for anyone without symptoms of coronavirus, and delayed and smaller than expected orders from government, meant the council’s community vans ran out of stock.
The vans were unable to get out last week, but the teams are now back on the road. The two vans, which include one running on a fixed schedule and the other moving around to reach as many people as possible, are open daily from 9am-12pm to try to make sure everyone, including those without internet access, can get access to tests.
Anyone who has difficulty doing the steps needed to get their results from lateral flow tests can also visit the vans for assisted testing, where staff process the results.
From today (Tuesday 11 January) anyone who gets a positive test on lateral flow will no longer need to confirm the result with a PCR, which is a more sensitive test that needs to be sent to a laboratory to process the results.
Recent changes also mean anyone with Covid who gets two negative results, 24 hours apart, on home lateral flow tests, from day six after a positive test or symptoms starting, can end their isolation. This means they could finish isolating from day seven onwards, depending on the results of their tests, rather than the previous 10 days.
North Somerset Council’s executive member for health, Cllr Mike Bell, said: “Our community testing vans are only one way people can get access to lateral flow tests in North Somerset.
“The main route is through the government’s online ordering system. We strongly encourage anyone who needs tests, who has internet access, to use this portal. Capacity has been increased, and kits are added throughout the day, so keep checking if you find an out-of-stock message.
“Some pharmacists also have lateral flow tests available for home testing.”
North Somerset Council’s Director of Public Health, Matt Lenny, said: “These types of rapid tests, where you process the results yourself, should only be used if you don’t have symptoms of Covid-19 – a temperature, new continuous cough, or a change to your sense of taste or smell. If you have any of these, however mild, you must still isolate and get a PCR test straightaway.”
Lateral flow tests can be ordered online at www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
Details of where North Somerset Council’s mobile testing vans visit is available at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/rapidtesting
Anyone who needs a PCR test can book online at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119.