A targeted two-week enhanced testing programme is being rolled out across two postcodes in the Canterbury area in response to confirmation of a number of cases of the B.1.617.2 Indian variant strain of COVID-19.

Anyone living, working or studying in all CT1 postcodes and the CT2 7 postcode, without symptoms of COVID and over the age of 12, is urged to get a PCR test at one of five mobile testing units that will be specially stationed in the area from today (Tuesday 1 June).  

Testing units will be open seven days a week from 9am to 7pm for walk-in appointments (which means you cannot book an appointment) at the following locations up until Tuesday 15 June:

  • New Dover Road Park and Ride, CT1 3EL
  • Sturry Road Park and Ride, CT1 1AD
  • University of Kent Canterbury Campus, Keynes College car park, CT2 7NP
  • University of Kent Canterbury Campus, Darwin College car park, CT2 7NY
  • Wincheap Park and Ride, CT1 3TQ  

Children aged 13 to 15 must be accompanied by a parent or carer. 

Those taking part will be notified of their result – whether positive or negative for coronavirus – in the usual way, by NHS Test and Trace, and are not expected to self-isolate while awaiting the outcome. All positive results will be sent for further analysis and genome-sequencing to determine which strain of the virus they may have.

Anyone who currently has symptoms of coronavirus – high temperature, a new or continuous cough, a loss or change in taste or smell – should not take part in this enhanced testing initiative but should book a test by visiting the government’s website or calling 119.

Kent’s interim Director of Public Health, Dr Allison Duggal said: “It’s important to stress the number of cases of the B.1.617.2 variant of concern in the county are low – and that those identified to date have isolated appropriately, with their contacts traced and testing offered.

“But, in line with several other local authorities in England who are carrying out enhanced testing, we don’t want to take anything for granted. Working closely with Public Health England and Canterbury City Council, we are adopting a highly precautionary approach, continually assessing the situation and acting quickly to tackle outbreaks before they have a chance to spread.

“If you live in the relevant postcodes, I urge you to get tested at one of the mobile testing sites in Canterbury even if you have had one or two Covid vaccinations. If everyone plays their part by continuing to follow the public health advice in their local area, and getting vaccinated when invited, we can break chains of transmission and keep Kent safe.”

Councillor Rachel Carnac, Deputy Leader of Canterbury City Council, said: “Whether you live, work or study in the affected postcodes, please do your bit and get tested to help us combat this virus at such a vital time.

“We’ve come this far because we have pulled together so brilliantly well and we have to keep that going.”

Dr Duggal added: “There’s also much we can do to protect ourselves against all COVID variants, from following the ‘hands-face-space-and let in fresh air’ guidance to making ‘test-record-repeat’ part of our weekly routine and getting vaccinated when it’s our turn. Being vigilant is key to helping the county stay on track to recovery.”

People who do not live in the two Canterbury postcodes where enhanced testing is taking place are encouraged to book a test at a symptom-free testing centre in Kent. To find out more details and to book a test, go to KCC’s website. It is easy to book a test and there are plenty of appointments available.

Most community pharmacies in Kent have joined the collect scheme for COVID-19 tests. Find out more information on where to get lateral flow tests, including at community pharmacies.

Read about all the surge testing happening in England to monitor and suppress the spread of the COVID-19 variant on the government website.

See the latest numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants of concern and variants under investigation, published by Public Health England.

By Ed

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