Mon, 15 Feb 2021
MORE than 250 West Berkshire key workers have been tested for Covid-19 in the first week of a new scheme.
The first rapid coronavirus testing centre for key workers opened in Highwood Copse Primary School in Newbury last Monday.
The scheme is government-funded and aims to prevent essential workers from transmitting the virus without realising.
Speaking at a meeting tonight (Monday) Melanie Best, who manages the lateral flow testing programme, said that the Highwood site had conducted 257 tests in the first week, all of which were negative.
A testing site opened at Thatcham Rugby Club today (Monday) and two more sites are expected to go live next Monday.
One will be at Hungerford Rugby Club and the other at Burghfield Community Sports Association.
Mrs Best said the sites were "quite resource hungry to set up, so we thought we could get four sites", adding that there no plans to extend beyond the four sites at this stage.
However, she said that people living outside the district but who travel into West Berkshire for work were eligible for testing at the four sites.
Asked about testing shop workers, Mrs Best said that the council wanted to extend the scheme to small businesses.
She said that the Government scheme covered large businesses but the council was including retail providers in its cohort.
She said: "One of the key cohorts we've been keen to reach are the early years providers, both private child minders and other private nurseries, and we've invited them to attend these sites.
"Hopefully we can reach more of them when we open in Burghfield and Hungerford next week.
"We've been reviewing the opening hours to try and look at earlier starts and later finishes to try and pick up as many of those that we can, but we are aware there are still some difficulties around travelling to and from the sites for those that don't drive, and also around their working patterns and again we're doing what we can to support them."
Asked about the accuracy of LFTs Mrs Best said: "I think, when they're done at home it's very difficult to assess whether they have been done properly, but when they are done on these sites they are supervised by people who have been trained to do it, and they do guide them through it.
"It's very high when it's supervised, so I don't think there are any concerns around that."
A project team has been put together in case surge testing for the South Africa variant is required in West Berkshire.