People in Somerset will have access to assisted covid-19 testing from today (Saturday 1 May) as the county takes another important step in the roadmap out of lockdown.
Somerset’s Director of Public Health is encouraging everyone to access free, regular, rapid Covid-19 testing. This regular testing is for people who do not have symptoms of Covid-19 and is important because it helps to find cases which would otherwise go unidentified, as well as contributing to the process of identifying and suppressing new variants of concern.
So far, 19 Somerset pharmacies have signed up to provide assisted testing, so if you have never used a Lateral Flow (rapid) test before, it is a great way to be shown how to do the test correctly. You can then collect kits and do the testing at home. Or this service might help those people who cannot perform the test on themselves for any reason, allowing them to participate in regular rapid testing.
Somerset residents can access rapid testing in the following ways:
Visit one of the 19 pharmacies currently signed up to the assisted testing scheme. For details, follow this link: Coronavirus – Get a test if you do not have symptoms (somerset.gov.uk)
If you want to collect a kit and perform the test on yourself at home, there are several ways of doing this. Details of the test and collection site locations, dates and times for the services in Somerset are available here: Find where to get rapid lateral flow tests – NHS (test-and-trace.nhs.uk)
Many local pharmacies will provide a box of seven rapid tests to use twice a week at home. To find a pharmacy participating in ‘Pharmacy Collect’ use the following link and type ‘Somerset’ into the search bar to display the participating pharmacies. Find where to get rapid lateral flow tests – NHS (test-and-trace.nhs.uk)
Some workplaces will be providing tests, either within the workplace, or by sending them home. People are advised to check with their employers for details and use one of the other options if needed.
Finally, anyone who cannot collect their own kit or go for assisted testing can order a home testing kit which will be posted to them. Home testing kits can be ordered online here: Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Somerset County Council’s Director of Public Health, Trudi Grant, said: “Regular testing is one of the best tools we have in our fight against coronavirus, and is an easy way to help keep your loved ones and work mates safe.”
“I urge everyone without symptoms to use rapid testing twice a week. With up to one third of cases showing no symptoms, you will be playing a really important part in helping us to isolate asymptomatic cases and their contacts and break the chain of transmission. You will also be contributing to the process of identifying and reducing the impact of any new variants.”
“It is really important to understand the difference between rapid tests and the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test. The rapid tests are effectively a screening tool for those displaying no symptoms. The PCR test is still considered ‘gold standard’ and should be undertaken if you have a positive result with your rapid test, or if you are displaying any of the Covid-19 symptoms: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, loss or change in sense of smell or taste. It is this test that is sequenced in a lab and can identify variants of the virus.”
Michael Lennox, Chair of Somerset Local Pharmacy Committee said: “It’s fantastic to see the launch of this service in Somerset and great to see community pharmacy taking an even greater role during the pandemic to support people in Somerset.”
“We know that people will really value having the additional choice in location and that pharmacies can make a significant contribution to our Somerset testing programmes for covid-19”.
You can book a PCR test here: Get a free PCR test to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
More information on rapid testing in Somerset if you don’t have symptoms can be found here: Coronavirus – Get a test if you do not have symptoms (somerset.gov.uk)