Blackburn with Darwen Council has announced it will be carrying out surge testing in areas in the borough with higher rates of the current Variant of Concern - starting in the Shear Brow area.
In a statement, the council revealed that surge testing will move into a new phase of door-knocking in certain areas, with added support from Army staff.
This means that from Friday 28 May staff from Blackburn with Darwen Council’s engagement teams will be calling at people’s homes in areas that have higher rates of the Coronavirus Variant of Concern now known as VOC-21APR-02.
Staff will deliver information about testing and PCR test kits, returning later to collect completed tests.
From Saturday 29 May the Army will provide support by taking over the running of the five community hubs in Blackburn, where residents can collect and return PCR test kits. They will also staff the rapid Covid-19 test site at King George’s Hall from Tuesday 1 June.
Surge testing means increased testing in a specific area with higher case rates. Council engagement officers will work with residents to encourage them to take a PCR test for Coronavirus even if they have no symptoms.
Chief Executive of Blackburn with Darwen Council says everyone needs to play their part in the fight to bring down infection rates:
This increased testing will happen in the Shear Brow area of Blackburn from Friday 28 May.
Over the next four weeks, surge testing through door-knocking and more engagement will expand into many other areas of Blackburn.
What will happen when surge testing comes to your area:
Council engagement teams will deliver a postcard to homes in the area where surge testing is starting
The following day they will call back to talk to householders about surge testing and why it’s important, and leave PCR test kits for everyone in the household – including children over the age of 11 years
If needed, they will direct people to mobile testing units for help taking the tests
They will advise residents when teams will call back to collect their completed PCR test kits, and offer support with registering the test kits – it’s important to register kits so that residents receive their results
Engagement teams can also offer advice on what to do if residents get a positive test, and provide information about the support available, including the enhanced Self-Isolation Support payments.
Professor Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health for Blackburn with Darwen, said:
He continued: "This increased surge testing is vital to helping us get a better understanding of how rapidly this variant is spreading across the borough, and how we can work to shut down transmission.
"Over the next month or so Blackburn residents can expect to see lots of people in high vis yellow jackets in their neighbourhoods, handing out information about testing. It’s all about keeping people safe and helping people understand what they can do to prevent further spread of the Variant of Concern. These teams are very experienced in working with residents and will be happy to answer questions anyone has about why this testing is so important and what they need to do."
Coun Mohammed Khan CBE, Leader of the Council, added:
He added: "By taking over the running of our community hubs and our rapid Covid-19 test site, our own engagement staff will then be able to get out on the ground in areas where we know the variant of concern is spreading, to talk to residents and encourage more people to take a PCR test – even if they have no Coronavirus symptoms.
"I would urge everyone in the areas affected to get tested. By finding symptomless cases of Covid, infected people can isolate and help to slow transmission of the virus – and protect our communities."