The borough’s first covid-19 testing centre opened in New Addington this afternoon.
This pilot will continue from 10am tomorrow, and according to Public Health Croydon, “The site should be in full operation from Friday, September 18, when it will be open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.”
This is a considerable upgrade on previous in-borough testing arrangements, which saw army personnel erect a temporary drive-in test centre in the car park of the Fairfield Halls for two to three days at a time.
In a statement issued by the Department of Health and Social Care this afternoon, they said the testing facility is “part of the government’s UK-wide drive to improve the accessibility of coronavirus testing for communities”.
Testing is only available for those either with coronavirus symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense or taste – or those who have been asked to get tested by a doctor, public health professional or by their local council.
Anyone with one or more of these symptoms should book a test at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus or by calling 119. “You can expect your result the next day,” the government press release promised.
The health department’s press release was only a tad self-contradictory, stating in one sentence, “The site is easily accessible without a car,” while in the next sentence advising those attending the test centre not to use public transport to get there. Central Parade is more than five miles from central Croydon, so is easy to get to without a car or public transport for those in New Addington, but perhaps not so much for those in, say, Upper Norwood or Purley.
“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 travelling to and from the testing centre).”
And they added, “Anyone attending an appointment at a walk-through testing will be provided with guidance on getting to and from the test site safely.” Which is good of them.
“Testing is available for everyone, with additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.”
The government’s spin, that this is all part of “the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities created in British history”, overlooks previous promises from health secretary Matt Hancock that such volumes of testing would be available by the end of April, or that the largely privatised system of lab testing is taking seven days or more to process the results of the tests.
The health department says, “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, advising them to stay at home for 14 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus. They will be advised to also book at a test if they develop symptoms.”
The press release included a quote from Baroness Dido Harding, the Tory grandee who has been installed as the interim executive chair of the new body, the National Institute for Health Protection, who said: “Getting a test is now faster and easier than ever.
“Over 95 per cent of people will get their results the next day.”
We shall see, shan’t we?
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