Quick turnaround Covid-19 tests to come to South Yorkshire towns

Rotherham and Barnsley are in line to receive quick turnaround tests for Covid-19, the Government has announced.
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Following a successful trial in Liverpool, public health bosses in Rotherham and Barnsley will receive the lateral flow tests that can provide a result in 20 minutes.

Both towns will each receive a batch of 10,000 antigen lateral flow devices as part of the pilot to enable them to start testing priority groups.

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Julia Burrows, director of public health in Barnsley said that public health bosses across South Yorkshire had discussed the tests as a whole region - Sheffield will also receive the tests.

Chris Read, the leader of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. Picture: Chris EtchellsChris Read, the leader of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. Picture: Chris Etchells
Chris Read, the leader of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. Picture: Chris Etchells

Ms Burrows said: "This is an expansion of the same pilot that the Government announced for Doncaster. It's important to all four South Yorkshire areas that we look at this as a whole region, so our plans and discussions with the Government have reflected this.

“The pilot will look at targeted rapid testing using lateral flow test kits. This rapid form of testing is different from the usual swab kits used in testing centres and provides an inbuilt test result within an hour without the need for lab processing.

“The challenge we currently face is that some people who have COVID-19 don't show any symptoms. This means that they're spreading the virus to other, potentially vulnerable people.

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"Rapid testing using the lateral flow tests means we can test high-risk groups in our region, helping us to identify cases and getting people to self-isolate quickly to break the chain of infection."

Councillor Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, said that the tests are not a “magical solution”, and Rotherham will not follow Liverpool in testing everyone.

He said: “We’re obviously keen to use every tool that we can to keep residents safe and slow the spread of coronavirus, so it is welcome news that we will be one of the first places to be able to use these faster lateral flow tests and contribute to developing plans for how they may be used more widely.

“But we should also be clear that these are just one tool, not a magic solution, and this isn’t a Liverpool-style way of testing every individual person.

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“There will be a limited number of tests available which will be prioritised in the first stages to groups where faster results can bring particular benefits.

“The details of that are still subject to conversations with government at the moment. That said, in the longer term if these tests do prove to be practical and reliable they will undoubtedly be an important part of getting back to some sort of normality over the coming year, and that can only be a good thing.”

Anne Marie Lubanski , Rotherham strategic director for adult care, housing and public health, said: “Along with other South Yorkshire councils we have already volunteered to be a part of a mass testing programme, specifically targeted rapid testing using lateral flow test kits.

“We are currently working through the details of what this testing would look like, including which groups of people will be targeted.”

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.