Anyone, whether presenting symptoms of COVID-19 or not, will from Wednesday be able to be tested for the virus in Coventry.
A new community testing programme is being rolled out citywide following an initial trial at certain sites, after plans were brought forward several months due to Tier 3 restrictions being imposed on Coventry.
A new walk-in centre is operational on Priory Street, close to Coventry Cathedral, in Coventry University’s Priory Building, which was previously used to test students before they returned home for Christmas.
Anyone who is not showing symptoms of COVID-19 can get a test at the new site and there is no need to book an appointment in advance.
The site uses small Lateral Flow Devices to test for COVID-19, requiring a small swab of the nose and back of the throat, with resulting being reported in less than an hour without needing to go to a laboratory.
The person who is being tested conducts the swab themselves by hand, while a trained volunteer processes the results on the Lateral Flow Device.
People can walk-in for a test from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday.
Those who present any symptoms of COVID-19, however, are still advised to book a regular test through the NHS by calling 119 or through the NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app.
Councillor George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council, said: “Last week, we saw the first vaccinations take place in Coventry and that is great news, but the roll-out will take some time and we still need to do all we can to halt the spread.
“Testing is a key weapon in the battle against coronavirus and this week marks a significant step in our city’s work to return to a more normal way of life.”
The site will remain open over Christmas, apart from at weekends and Bank Holidays.
Cllr Duggins also thanked the volunteers for their work, and Coventry University for “generously allowing us to use their building that is right in the heart of the city centre, so we can reach as many people as possible.”
Asymptomatic people arriving for a test at the new site will be asked to provide a form of identification on arrival and then, if busy, will be directed to wait in a socially distanced queueing system.
Coventry’s director of public health, Liz Gaulton, explained that the new community testing is aimed at people who are “seeking assurance that they do not have the virus”, specifically mentioning “carers of vulnerable people” and “people about to spend time in Christmas bubbles” as two examples.
She added, “around a quarter of people who have the virus display no symptoms, so it is important to get tested and make sure you are not inadvertently spreading coronavirus, especially at this time of year when we may be meeting more vulnerable relatives.”
If demand is sufficient, it is believed opening hours could be extended or a second asymptomatic testing site could be opened.
A spokesperson from the University said, “we have every confidence that the use of our facility will be an invaluable resource for the council in their continuing hard work to keep the people of Coventry safe.”