New walk-through coronavirus testing site opens in Lincoln

A new walk-through coronavirus testing centre is now open at the University of Lincoln on the Joseph Banks Laboratory car park off, Beevor Street, as part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to continue to improve the accessibility of Covid-19 testing for local communities.

Coronavirus

It has partly been set up ahead of an influx of students to the city, but it will also be open to the general public to book appointments.

The Department for Health and Social Care and Deloitte had the build finished ready for opening today (Wednesday).

People must book ahead, not just turn up — in line with national testing centre guidance.

“The problem with just turning up is it’s bad enough at the Lincolnshire Showground, but at least you’re going to be in a car, so you’re going to be distanced there automatically because of the vehicle,” said Lincolnshire County Council’s director of public health Professor Derek Ward.

“With the local testing site, we’ve got to manage the flow of people in and out of the centre for obvious reasons, we’ve got keep their distance, we’ve got to protect the staff that are doing the swabs.

“If people just turn up, it makes it really difficult to do that. So, the my view and we’ve agreed, is that we are going to tell everybody they need to book.”

Testing is available only for those with coronavirus symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Anyone with one or more of these symptoms should book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. From the start of the pandemic, testing has been prioritised for the most vulnerable, including patients in clinical settings and care home residents, vital health and care staff and to manage outbreaks.

The new site is situated to be easily accessible without a car. Those being tested will be required to follow public health measures, including social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, practising good personal hygiene and wearing a face-covering throughout, including while travelling to and from the testing centre.

Anyone attending an appointment at a walk-through testing site will be provided with guidance on getting to and from the test site safely, with additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.

Testing at the new site starts today (Wednesday), with appointments made available each day.

The centre is understood to have a tapered opening for the first few days, but will run from 8am-8pm from the following week.

There have been around 12,000 tests carried out over the past seven days in Lincolnshire with around 50-65 positive cases – around a 1.5 per cent positivity rate.

Cases are expected to rise slightly as further and higher education students begin their new term, but Professor Ward was confident processes were in place and students would understand their responsibilities.

The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, which can be done by the person themselves (self-administered) or by someone else (assisted). Those being tested may experience some mild discomfort but it should not hurt.

Anyone taking a test at a test site can expect their results the next day.

The site is part of the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities created in British history, which now comprises 77 drive-through sites, 151 walk-through sites, 258 mobile units, home testing and satellite kits and five mega laboratories.

Anyone testing positive for the virus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them track their contacts. This will help people to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission.

Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, asking them to stay at home for 14 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus. They will be advised to also book a test if they develop symptoms.

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “We continue to expand testing to make sure that everyone with symptoms can get a test, with our new walk-in sites making it even easier no matter where you live.

“This new site forms part of our national testing network, which has the capacity to test more than a million people a week and is growing all the time.

“If you have symptoms of coronavirus, I urge you to book a test today and follow the advice of NHS Test and Trace if you are contacted to protect others around you and stop the spread of the virus.”

The testing centre is being operated in partnership with Serco and will offer self-administered tests.

Kevin Craven, Serco chief executive for UK and Europe said: “We are pleased to be supporting the Government and the NHS in setting up and managing the new testing centre in Lincoln, as well as the testing centres we are already operating.

“I would like to pay tribute to my colleagues who have worked extremely fast and professionally, and with the other organisations involved, to set up these centres having deployed from other roles within Serco. I know that they are proud to be doing their part in helping the country tackle coronavirus”