New mobile testing centre to be set up in Swindon town

The new measures follow cases at an Iceland depot and Tesco Extra store. Credit: ITV West Country

A mobile testing centre will be set up in Swindon as the local council steps up its efforts to avoid a coronavirus lockdown.

It comes after Swindon became the first town in the West Country to feature on the Government's 'areas of concern' list on Friday (7 August).

More than 1,000 people are now confirmed to have the virus there, with around 50 testing positive over the weekend of 8 and 9 August.

A testing centre will open on Wednesday 12 August at The County Ground.

Swindon Borough Council's Public Health team has also confirmed it is writing to thousands of households in the SN1 and SN2 areas after it was discovered a significant proportion of new cases were among people living there.

On Monday 10 August it was confirmed a "small number" of workers at a Tesco supermarket had contracted the virus. Credit: Google Maps

Coronavirus in Swindon - a timeline:

  • In July various businesses in Swindon were hit with new cases of Covid-19 including Honda, Royal Mail, some fire stations and an Iceland distribution centre.

  • The XPO Logistics depot, home to Iceland, soon became the hotspot for new cases in the town with more than 50 people testing positive. Two people went to hospital but were soon discharged.

  • A mobile testing unit was set up at the distribution centre and hundreds of staff members were tested within days. According to health bosses at Swindon Borough Council, asymptomatic workers were driving Swindon's increasing case numbers.

  • In the week leading up to the end of July, Swindon's increase in coronavirus cases was the largest rise per 100,000 people in England.

  • At the start of August, health leaders said the mini outbreak was under control and that there was no cause for concern amongst the wider public in Swindon.

  • As case numbers in the town started to fall, around 50 people tested positive again on the weekend of 8 and 9 August - prompting a swift response from the council as they try to avoid a local lockdown. New cases involve a "small number" of staff from a local Tesco Extra store.

As well as opening a new testing unit, Swindon Borough Council's Director of Public Health is urging residents to keep washing their hands, cover their faces in enclosed spaces and stay at least one-metre apart from people not in their households.

More than 50 people contracted coronavirus in a "mini outbreak" at an Iceland depot. Credit: ITV West Country

In a briefing on Monday 10 August, Steve Maddern also reiterated the need to stay at home and self-isolate if you show any symptoms of coronavirus.

Speaking to ITV West Country, Mr Maddern said: "We hope with the additional efforts that we're putting in, and with the call to action to Swindon residents, that if everyone is playing their part we can actually come off that list.

"That's the really key thing here. We're trying our best to protect the health of the population whilst also reducing our potential for going towards local level restrictions."