Posted: 09.06.21 at 11:28 by Ellie Brown
Covid surge testing is being rolled out in Kingston borough from today (Wednesday 9 June) in a bid to tackle an alarming rise in cases driven by the delta, or 'indian', variant of the virus with scientific name B1.617.2.
The testing was announced last week following an alarming spike in Kingston's coronavirus cases, including a jump of over 100% and the highest transmission rate in London.
It will last for three weeks from today and include mobile testing units in places where cases are highest as well as free PCR tests for people without symptoms.
Young people who live, study and work in the borough are being urged to take the PCR tests as the data shows that cases are highest in this age group.
In a statement this morning, the Council said: "Kingston Council is urging all young people who live, study and work in the borough to take a Covid PCR test, whether or not they have any coronavirus symptoms.
"Working with NHS Test and Trace, the council is introducing the targeted asymptomatic PCR testing programme to help combat a sharp rise in cases in younger age-groups across the borough, largely driven by the Delta variant (first identified in India).
"Beginning with educational settings, all secondary school pupils, along with primary, secondary and nursery staff and their households, will be offered PCR home testing kits.
"During the next three weeks Kingston Council will deliver around 90,000 kits to schools and other key settings across the borough, starting today, Wednesday 9 June 2021.
"Alongside this, all residents aged 19-24 who cannot access PCR tests through their workplace or educational setting are being urged to book a test at one of the borough’s local test sites by visiting www.nhs.uk/Get-Tested."
Iona Lidington, Director of Public Health at Kingston Council, said: “We have seen the highest rates of coronavirus across Kingston emerging amongst younger ages, which is why we are urging people in these groups to get tested.
"Everybody in the borough, including those not specifically targeted within this initiative, can also get tested at any of our testing sites.
“In Kingston, both our testing and vaccine uptakes have consistently been above average, demonstrating the collective commitment of our borough to defeat this virus.
“Now, we need all residents to do their bit, and be part of the solution - by getting the vaccine when it is their turn, by getting tested, and by continuing to follow the rules around hands-face-space and fresh air.”
Where to get free PCR tests in Kingston
- Milner Road, Kingston
- the Hawker Centre, Kingston
- the Market House, Kingston town centre
Where mobile testing will be operating
- the Cattle Market car park, Kingston
- Worcester Park train station car park
- Chessington World of Adventures
- the Kings Centre in Chessington
Dates and times of mobile testing available HERE
As part of the three-week surge programme, Kingston Council is also working closely with Kingston University and Kingston College to deliver PCR testing kits for staff and all students still attending classes.
It is also offering PCR testing to its own frontline workforce and commissioned services, as well as to key workplaces in the borough.
Kingston Hospital is offering PCR testing to all NHS staff in acute and community settings across the borough.
The Council is working closely with Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care and will continue to look at ways of making testing and vaccinations available at more venues across the borough, to ensure they are as easy as possible for people to access.
Residents who test positive and will therefore need to self-isolate can access support through the Kingston Stronger Together Hub HERE or by calling 020 8547 5000.
This includes a new local Stay Home Support voucher scheme that Kingston Council has put in place for those on low incomes who are not eligible for the national £500 self-isolation payments.
Alongside the increased testing being offered, vaccinations will also play a key role in the programme.
While the Delta variant is more transmissible than previous strains of the virus, evidence is showing that having two doses of the coronavirus vaccine continues to be highly effective in preventing serious illness and reducing onward spread.
Professor Kevin Fenton, London Regional Director for Public Health England, said: “Following close monitoring of cases of the Delta variant across London, we have decided to take early preventative action in Kingston Upon Thames.
"This is in addition to the comprehensive work already being undertaken in the local area and across London to rapidly identify undetected variant cases in communities, trace their contacts and offer additional testing.
“If you are asked to come forward for a PCR test as part of the efforts in Kingston, please get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.
"If your test is positive, self-isolate immediately and engage with contact tracers to help stop the spread of variants in the local community.
“If everyone plays their part by continuing to follow the public health advice in their local area, and getting vaccinated when invited, we can break chains of transmission and keep all of London safe.”
Kingston Council also has a dedicated page with information on the surge testing programme, find it here: https://www.kingston.gov.uk/surge.
Nub News will also be keeping you updated on this story.