New coronavirus testing centre opens in Wigan and community testing due to begin

Wigan has stepped up its response to the coronavirus pandemic, with a new testing centre opening its doors and plans to roll out testing in the community.
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It is hoped the rollout of targeted community testing for priority groups and hot-spots, plus a new site on the national database, will bolster the borough's response to the pandemic.

A new facility, part of the national system, is now operating at Central Park, on Montrose Avenue, Marsh Green, for symptomatic testing.

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Wigan Council will be rolling out its allocation of rapid (lateral-flow) tests from next week, which will be used for vulnerable groups, priority workers, geographical hot-spots and key locations such as care homes and schools.

The new testing centre has opened at Central ParkThe new testing centre has opened at Central Park
The new testing centre has opened at Central Park

These tests, which show results within an hour, will improve the detection of positive cases in people who are yet to show symptoms, helping to prevent onward transmission.

Prof Kate Ardern, Wigan's director of public health, said: “Residents will be aware that throughout the pandemic they have had to travel to national testing sites outside of the borough, such as Haydock, for symptomatic testing.

“To have this new facility will be more convenient for many and, alongside the rollout of the targeted testing at scale for asymptomatic residents, will help our response.

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“The lateral-flow tests will be prioritised for key groups and locations to help us identify outbreaks and ensure residents are isolated quickly to break the chain of transmission. We will be re-visiting target locations several times.

“If someone returns a positive lateral-flow test, they will need to go through the national booking system to get a PCR test (at locations such as Central Park) for confirmation, as PCR tests are considered to be the ‘gold standard’ test.”

The national testing site at Central Park will be a walk-through facility operated by government contractor Deloitte.

The Chapel Lane drive-through testing site, operated by the council, has stopped taking bookings as teams have been reassigned to rollout the targeted testing operations.

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Council leader Coun David Molyneux said: “Our rates are showing encouraging signs but this is no time to be complacent.

“These new testing capabilities will assist our dedicated public health teams and I would like to pass on our gratitude for their continued hard work to keep us all safe.

“In the meantime, please keep the guidelines at the forefront of the minds and remember the 3Ws - wear a face covering, watch your space and wash your hands - especially over the Christmas period.”

The council is working alongside Greater Manchester counterparts and third-party providers on plans for testing for care home residents and their relatives to enable visits.

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Anyone who is symptomatic and cannot attend a test centre is advised to use or call 119 to request a home test kit.

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