Surge testing: Sandhurst latest focus as coronavirus cases rise across Thames Valley

  • Video report from ITV News Meridian reporter Mel Bloor

The latest programme of coronavirus surge testing in the Thames Valley was launched today (16 June), as cases of the Delta variant continue to rise.

This scheme, announced on Friday (11 June) by Bracknell Forest Council, is focused on the GU47 0 postcode area of Sandhurst.

Public health experts said last week that this area was being targeted because of high infection rates combined with low uptake of the vaccine.

Cllr Paul Bettison, leader of Bracknell Forest Council, said that the area had seen "quite an increase" in cases "in the last couple of weeks."

"It's important to do the proper PCR tests rather than the lateral flow test so that we can identify the variant of Covid-19 in those people that prove positive," he added.

  • Who is being asked to get tested?

Pupils at one primary school in the postcode area will join the testing programme.

Bracknell Forest Council says that anyone over the age of 11 who lives or works in the GU47 0 postcode should come forward for a PCR test.

That includes people who've been partially or fully vaccinated, or those taking regular lateral flow tests.

Primary school children in the area do not need to be tested, unless they study at Binfield Church of England Primary School.

Surge testing is also being deployed at secondary schools and colleges across the Bracknell Forest area.

The deployment of surge testing in Bracknell Forest follows the role out of schemes in Reading, Wokingham, Fleet and Rushmoor.

The latest Public Health England figures show that the Delta variant, which first originated in India, is clearly the dominant version of the virus across the Thames Valley.

In some good news, hospitalisations have not risen in line with infections, indicating that two doses of the vaccine is effective protection.

But concern remains that as long as variants circulate in the community, they could alter again - possibly reducing the how well the vaccines can protect us.