Mass COVID-19 test centres up and running in Windsor and Maidenhead

Rapid coronavirus test centres have opened up in the Royal Borough and have already identified asymptomatic carriers of the virus who could have potentially spread it to the public.

A pair of test centres opened up in Braywick Leisure Centre and Windsor Leisure Centre on Monday for people who do not have any COVID-19 symptoms and work in public-facing roles.

The purpose of the centres, which offer 30-minute lateral flow tests, is to identify the carriers of the virus who have no symptoms, and would otherwise carry on doing their jobs, putting the public at risk.

In the first two days of operation, 450 people were tested across both sites, with four people testing positive. These people are now at home self-isolating.

Public-facing workers, from council officers and bus drivers to mechanics and supermarket staff, can get tested twice a week at the centre to give them the peace of mind that they are not carrying the virus.

Cllr Stuart Carroll, lead member for health, said: “So far so good. We are getting very positive feedback on the ground and positive resident feedback on how it is operating.

“We have to remember that one in three people are asymptomatic and could not realise they are transmitting it to other people.

"The more people that keep transmitting the harder it is to push the virus back and that puts us in a difficult position in terms of trying to control case count.”

Once they are running at full capacity, the centres will be able to test 1,400 people per day.

On social media, some people have been critical of the fact that only a few positive tests have been recorded at the sites.

Responding to this criticism, Cllr Carroll said: “There have been some unintelligent and misinformed comments on social media saying ‘what’s the point in it if you are only catching four positive cases, is this a value for money exercise?’

“The answer is yes. The point is to know where the virus is and to identify anybody who is positive because one case alone means that a great number of other people could be infected.

“It is vital from that point of view in stopping transmission.”

The test centres are open to all residents who work in a public-facing role and cannot work from home. To book a test, which only takes 30 minutes, and to view a full (but not exhaustive) list of those eligible for one, visit www.rbwm.gov.uk/home/council-and-democracy/contact-us/coronavirus-information-and-support/covid-19-community-testing

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, visit gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test to book a test at another centre.

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