Mass testing in Sheffield will only work if people follow the rules and quarantine, says Council Leader

The Leader of Sheffield Council has warned that mass testing for Covid-19 will only work if people self isolate when told to do so.

Monday, 16th November 2020, 3:49 pm

Council chiefs have repeatedly said that only 80 per cent of people are quarantining when advised.

Council Leader Julie Dore says she understands the financial predicament many people have but a huge testing project would only work if people followed the rules.

“The one single thing that can suppress the virus is individuals’ behaviour but 20 per cent of people don’t self isolate when advised to.

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Soldiers carry out mass coronavirus testing in St Johns Market, Liverpool during the four week national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus in England. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

“You could test thousands more people but if people are reluctant to go for a test or won’t self isolate, it won’t have an effect.

“If you are following all the rules, the risk is low but the financial support packages are simply not enough and people have to make very difficult choices. I’m constantly worried about that.”

Sheffield did not want to sign up to mass testing until it saw the results from Liverpool, she said.

Almost 70 local authorities have accepted thousands of lateral flow tests which can provide results within an hour without needing to be processed in a lab.

The tests mean more high-risk groups can be tested in local communities on a weekly basis and it will pick up more cases where people have no symptoms.

Coun Dore said test and track had to be part of the bigger picture.

“To set something up that quickly during a pandemic is unprecedented and there will be teething problems.

“Mass testing was right for Liverpool because they had over 600 cases per 100,000 and it was right that they were the pilot.

“But this is a massive logistical exercise, the amount of resources being used in Liverpool is incredible.

“We want to see evidence that mass testing works. It has only been going on week in Liverpool and we need to learn from it.”

Coun Dore said she would prefer to have a targeted local system while there was major testing of certain groups who were most likely to pass the virus on, such as carers going into people’s homes and retail staff.

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