Posted on behalf of Stoke-on-Trent City Council:
As we are now progressing with the ‘Living with Covid’ plan, our four testing sites across the city will close and free Covid-19 tests will end his week, in accordance with the Government’s plan.
Thanks go to all those who have worked so hard to ensure the smooth running of the sites, and our staff who were responsible for organising the pop-up testing across various parts of the city, to make it easier for our residents to access testing. We have been recognised as one of the areas which have consistently maintained a high level of testing throughout the pandemic.
You will probably already know that free universal testing ends for the general public from today, 1 April, although the government has announced that they will continue to provide free symptomatic testing for:
- patients in hospital, for whom a test is required for clinical management or to support treatment pathways.
- people who are eligible for COVID-19 treatments because they are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19. People in this group will be contacted directly and sent lateral flow tests to keep at home for use if they have symptoms as well as being told how to reorder tests.
- individuals who live or work in high-risk closed settings, for example in some NHS, Social Care, and Prison (and other Places of Detention) settings where infection needs to be identified quickly to minimise outbreaks.
It will also continue to fund some asymptomatic testing in NHS services, during periods of higher prevalence, including for staff and patients.
For adult social care settings services and hospices, the Department for Health and Social Care will also continue to fund some regular asymptomatic testing for staff in periods of high prevalence. Asymptomatic testing of care home and hospice residents will be provided on admission and during an outbreak, not routinely. Most visitors to adult social care settings, and visitors in the NHS, prisons or places of detention will no longer be required to take a test.
Local COVID cases and hospitaisations
Unfortunately, Covid is still having a significant impact on the city. We have high Covid rates and transmission of Covid, and whilst it is not leading to the level of serious illness as it was previously, it is seriously affecting local health and social care services.
It is creating greater demand on services at a time when many staff are off sick and many care homes are suffering with outbreaks and are having to be closed to admissions and visitors, resulting in hospitals feeling the pressure.
Hospitalisations have also risen in recent weeks, with around 45% of those in hospital that have tested positive are there with COVID-19 as their primary diagnosis. This is at a time when hospitals are also struggling with staff sickness absences. On 29th March UHNM had 223 admissions which is higher than at the peak last year with nearly 10% staff sickness.
And across the city, we have 26 care homes closed to admissions and something like 60 residents and 90 staff positive at the moment.
That is why, in the absence of free testing for the general public and many staff, you should stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have any symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19, and a high temperature or you feel unwell until you feel well enough to resume normal activities or no longer have a high temperature.
Protecting yourself from COVID
To protect yourself from Covid and other transmissible diseases it is sensible to wear a mask in enclosed spaces, keep indoor spaces ventilated, wash your hands regularly and keep your distance from others.
Anyone who has not yet received their vaccines or booster jab is recommended to book an appointment straight away – the NHS vaccine programme is there to help you and the sooner you are vaccinated the sooner you and your family and friends will be protected.
Covid is still with us
Please remember that Covid-19 is still with us so it’s crucial you continue to manage the risks to yourself and your family. Getting vaccinated is a key part of the government’s Living with Covid plan. Also consider wearing a face mask in crowded or enclosed places and if you are unwell, try to stay at home.
The government has retained the ability to enable a rapid testing response should it be needed, such as the emergence of a new variant of concern.
This includes a stockpile of lateral flow tests and the ability to ramp up testing laboratories and delivery channels.
From today, 1 April, updated guidance will advise people with symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19, and a high temperature or who feel unwell, to try stay at home and avoid contact with other people, until they feel well enough to resume normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature. Until 1 April individuals should continue to follow the current guidance.
From 1 April, anyone with a positive COVID-19 test result will be advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days, which is when they are most infectious.
Advice will be provided for individuals who need to leave their home when they have symptoms or have tested positive, including avoiding close contact with people with a weakened immune system, wearing a face-covering and avoiding crowded places.
Categorised in: News