Public advised to keep trying national portal as new testing site opens in Swindon

By Kieran Hadfield - 16 September 2020

Health

A third coronavirus testing centre has opened in Swindon to boost testing capacity in the town.

The Local Testing Site (LTS) opened at Broadgreen Community Centre yesterday following a request to the Department for Health and Social Care from Swindon Borough Council’s Public Health team.

It comes after the Council requested consistent access to testing from the Government after being placed on the national COVID-19 watchlist last month.

The new LTS will provide indoor testing capacity in the run-up to the autumn and winter months and will be available alongside the Mobile Testing Unit at the Council’s Civic Annexe in Beckhampton Street and the Regional Testing Site at the former Wroughton Park and Ride.

The Civic Annexe site is available as a ‘drive-through’ and ‘walk-through’ facility with the Broadgreen LTS solely a ‘walk-through’ site. Appointments should be booked in advance. The Wroughton Park and Ride site remains available to ‘drive-through’ visitors, again by booked appointment only.

Issues with the national online booking portal has caused problems for people trying to book appointments across the country. Despite these problems, the latest data shows that between 2 and 8 September more than 3,700 COVID-19 tests were carried out at the two testing sites in Swindon with a further 793 home testing kits being sent out to local people.

Swindon residents are advised to follow this important advice:

  • The Council is not informed of when new booking slots are added to the NHS portal and, inevitably, these are quickly booked up due to demand. If there are no local test slots available when attempting to book on the NHS online portal or when calling NHS 119, keep trying as new slots and home testing kits are made available daily
  • Only book a test if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
  • It is essential to book a test appointment – you will not be tested if you turn up at a testing site without one
  • Do not call NHS 111 to book a COVID-19 test – you will not be able to do so and this phone line must be prioritised for people with other medical and health issues

Residents who experience a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of, or change to their sense of smell or taste, must stay at home and book a test via the national online portal or by calling NHS 119.

Last Friday (11 Sep), Swindon moved down a place on the Government’s watchlist becoming an “area of concern” following a significant reduction in the Borough’s COVID-19 case rate.

At the height of the recent spate of cases, Swindon’s infection case rate up to the 4 August was 46.8 per 100,000 of the population according to figures from Public Health England. The latest figures released on Friday show that the case rate up to 6 September had fallen to 16.7 per 100,000 of the local population, below the national average of 19.7.

Steve Maddern, Swindon Borough Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Access to testing has been a crucial part of our strategy in tackling COVID-19 here in Swindon, so I am really pleased we have been able to secure additional testing capacity at our new facility in Broadgreen.

“We know some people have experienced difficulty booking tests and this is an issue which is reflected across the country. However, if you have COVID-19 symptoms please keep trying because new testing appointments and the option of booking home testing kits are regularly added to the online portal.

“It really is important that people do book appointments for tests because anyone that turns up without doing so will be turned away.”

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