Door-to-door tests on North Tyneside in efforts to limit spread of India variant of covid

Credit: PA

North Tyneside Council is ramping up efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The coastal area has been highlighted as a hotspot for the more easily transmitted Indian variant of coronavirus.

Three walk-in testing sites have opened in recent days, mobile vaccination units have been set up and now the council is to offer doorstep covid tests.

From Wednesday, North Tyneside Council is working with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to deliver PCR tests to some households in a number of targeted areas.

The first towns on North Tyneside to get the door-to-door tests are:

  • North Shields

  • Wallsend

  • Whitley Bay.

These areas have been identified as having positive cases for the COVID-19 variant first discovered in India.

This additional doorstep testing is being carried out in order to gather more information and effectively monitor community transmission. 

The council are reassuring locals that the additional tests are not in response to recent confusion over government guidance about travel restrictions on North Tyneside.

Everyone over the age of 12 in households which are visited is asked to take a test even if they;

  • Have no symptoms of COVID-19

  • Have been vaccinated

  • Have tested positive previously (but not within the last 90 days of a PCR test).

Leaflets urging householders to get tested at pop-up PCR testing sites in the borough will be put through letter boxes if there is no answer at the door.

Positive tests will be analysed to identify any further spread of the variant, enabling a better understanding of the strain and identifying if there are any more cases of this particular strand of the virus in this area.

Wendy Burke, North Tyneside Director of Public Health, said: “It is really important that everyone who is visited at their home takes the test, regardless of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or not, to help us find out if and where the virus is spreading and whether there are any more cases of the variant.

"This door-to-door testing is in addition to the enhanced testing offer and increased availability of vaccinations currently available in the borough, which we’re encouraging people to take advantage of.”

Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue service are helping North Tyneside council rollout the doorstep covid tests. The Service has been serving and responding on the front line since the start of the pandemic.

The latest COVID-19 case rate in North Tyneside is 55 per 100,000 in the last week. 

This figure includes people Test and Trace has identified through enhanced contact tracing who were already self-isolating.

 Case numbers are expected to increase as more people are tested.

Surge Testing Unit on North Tyneside Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Surge testing sites are open in three locations around the borough - Shiremoor, Bedford Street, North Shields; and at Wallsend Forum. These are for people without COVID-19 symptoms.

People with symptoms should stay at home and self-isolate immediately and book a test the usual way - online or by calling 119.

The existing test sites at The Parks Leisure Centre in North Shields and the Coronation Street car park in Wallsend should continue to only be used by those with symptoms.

There’s more information about getting tested in North Tyneside here.

Meanwhile, people who are eligible but who have not yet had their first vaccine are urged to book as soon as they can.

Everyone aged over 30 can book an appointment and thousands of appointments are available in community locations across North Tyneside.

Extra vaccination services offering the vaccine for over 40s only are available without appointment at the following locations and times

  • Wednesday 26 May, 9am–6pm at Shiremoor Northumberland Park

  • Thursday 27 May, 3pm–6pm North Shields town centre

  • Friday 28 May, 9am–6pm – North Shields town centre

  • Saturday 29 May, 9am–6pm – Location to be confirmed