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Health update: Make testing your new habit!

A message from Julie Webster, Wirral's Director of Public Health.

Dear residents,

Everyone in Wirral can now access rapid symptom-free tests for COVID-19.

Alongside the vaccine rollout, regular testing will help us to prevent outbreaks of the virus and  return to a more normal way of life. With around one in three people with the virus not showing symptoms, regular, symptom-free testing remains an essential tool to help control the spread, especially as restrictions ease, by picking up cases that would not otherwise have been found.

Back in December 2020, Wirral residents and workers came in their droves to our symptom-free testing sites. Before the most recent lockdown, thousands of you took part in a testing pilot across the borough and no doubt helped to keep yourselves and your families safe.

I want us to get in to the habit of routine testing  – twice-weekly this time around – to identify if we have the virus to take the appropriate action and help keep us all safe.

Just like we automatically put on a seatbelt when we get into a car, symptom-free testing should be a routine part of our lives that we almost, don’t even think about.

Public Health England have shared their emerging research from ours and other pilots here which suggests that the risk of false positives is extremely low – about one in a thousand. Even so, if you test positive after a symptom-free test, you will be asked to take a further ‘PCR test’ to confirm.

You can access regular symptom-free testing at Wirral’s Community Testing centres and other venues. You can either attend the centres and take a test with the support of the staff there, or if you prefer you can now collect a box of kits for you and your household to use at home.

There are new ways to collect testing kits becoming available including from local pharmacies, libraries, leisure centres as well as our rapid mobile testing vehicles which you will start to see in busy places like supermarkets and our parks.

More information on the ways you can access testing in Wirral is available at: wirral.gov.uk/test or you can call the Coronavirus Helpline on 0151 666 5050.

For those of you that can’t access tests through the above routes, you can order a box of tests online or through 119, which will be delivered to your home.

Please remember, testing alone isn’t a catch-all for stopping the spread of the virus. But, used alongside face coverings, good hand hygiene and social distancing, they are another tool that will help us drive down COVID-19 levels and continue along the Roadmap on schedule.

Thanks for reading and look after each other.

Julie.