A new walk-in community testing centre has opened in the High Peak for the first time on Wednesday (17 February).
Based at the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton, it will operate seven days a week from 9am to 7pm and aims to help reduce the number of coronavirus cases in the borough.
Derbyshire County Council say all districts and boroughs in the county will get the centres, starting with Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire this week. Centres for Derbyshire Dales and Erewash are planned to open by the end of February.
The centre at Midway Community Centre will stay open to cover South Derbyshire. Amber Valley will keep a centre in Heanor, and the centres in South Normanton and Shirebrook will stay open in the short term, with a new venue opening for the Bolsover area in time.
This follows an announcement by the government that it is expanding the offer of rapid testing to all businesses in sectors which have remained open in lockdown.
One in three of those who have coronavirus do not have symptoms, so the testing is aimed at those who are still going out to work and mixing with colleagues or the public. The testing will identify people with COVID-19, enable support for those who have to self-isolate, and help to drive infection rates down in the county.
Alongside the test, people will be offered advice and help with financial support that they may be entitled to if they need to self-isolate and help to access wider benefits.
Dean Wallace, Director of Public Health at Derbyshire County Council, said: “Although rates of those testing positive are coming down we need to do more to try and stop the chain of transmission.
“We know that many people are just not able to work from home so these new centres are aimed at those who have to go out to work and mix with colleagues and the public. It is this group of people who are at the most risk of getting the virus, and with one in three who do have the virus showing no symptoms they can easily pass it on to anyone they come in to contact with.
“Please if you are still going out to work come to your nearest centre weekly and get a test to protect your families, colleagues and community.
“It only takes a few minutes and will make such a difference. The quicker we can get on top of this virus the sooner our lives can start to return to normal.”
Other established methods of testing for people with symptoms will continue alongside community testing and people who have a high temperature, continuous cough or have lost their sense of small or taste should book a test online in the usual way at https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.
Councillor Barry Lewis, Leader of Derbyshire County Council, said: “I’m pleased that we are now setting up these new centres. It has been a real team effort with colleagues from across the council getting involved to help.
“We’re also grateful to colleagues from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service who have helped move equipment round the county and helped to get things in place. Thanks also go to the district and borough councils who have helped in providing venues for us to use.
“I’d also like to pay tribute to the fantastic support we have had from the RAF. They joined us just before Christmas and helped us get our Swadlincote sites set up. Thank you to you all.
“Getting a test doesn’t mean you can’t still catch the virus, so please continue to wash your hands regularly, keep your distance and wear a face covering unless you are exempt."
High Peak MP Robert Largan said: "Testing is key to breaking the chains of transmission. By strengthening testing, we can support the work in getting the British people vaccinated.
“That is why I am really pleased that we have got a community testing centre in the High Peak. This is a positive step forward to stopping Covid spreading locally and saving lives. We will get through this, together!”
Those attending are asked not to bring bags or other items with them that they don’t consider to be essential, but are asked to bring a fully charged smart phone if they have one. Parents or guardians are asked to accompany those aged 11 to 16.
To find out what the demand is like at the centres when you want to go along, visit https://derbyshire.maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/findatestcenter.html
More information can be found on the council’s website at derbyshire.gov.uk/communitytesting.
The site at the Octagon at the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton. Photo credit: Pavilion Gardens.
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