One in 10 Wigan residents will get regular coronavirus tests

Around 10 per cent of Wigan’s population will be regularly tested for Covid using lateral flow tests – the same technology used in the Liverpool trial last month.
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People in priority groups who do not have Covid symptoms will be tested in a bid to allow care homes, schools and businesses to continue operating safely.

This includes care home visitors, taxi drivers and school teachers as well as people living in areas with the highest rates of transmission of coronavirus.

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Targeted testing at scale in Wigan will be carried out alongside the roll-out of the vaccine starting with frontline NHS staff and one ‘hotspot’ neighbourhood.

Regular tests will be carried outRegular tests will be carried out
Regular tests will be carried out

But unlike in Liverpool where anyone could volunteer for the mass testing pilot, access to asymptomatic testing in Wigan will be by invitation only.

High priority workforces will be tested using lateral flow technology later this month, with care home visitors, high risk occupational groups, such as food production facilities, and schools to be invited to take part in January.

By February, when the programme is expected to be fully operational, people living and working in sheltered housing, residents receiving care at home and homeless people are expected to be invited and encouraged to take part.

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The biggest cohort of people who will be offered lateral flow tests is informal carers, which includes young carers, of which there are an estimated 38,000.

Wigan’s director of public health Prof Kate Ardern told the health and wellbeing board about the lateral flow testing programme which will be run by Deloitte.

She said: “It’s very clear that one-off testing is not what it’s good at.

“What it’s good at is actually serial testing with individuals to help them to maintain activity.

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“For example, workforces that need to have daily testing in order to continue to work.”

Anyone receiving a positive result using the low-sensitivity lateral flow tests will need to take the “traditional” PCR test to confirm the result is correct.

This is because lateral flow tests often generate false positive results.

Prof Ardern said sensitivity can be as low as 54 per cent, particularly when people administer the tests themselves after being taught how to use the tests.

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The public health director also told the health and wellbeing board that daily testing can allow people to return to work while they are self-isolating.

She added: “We will not be offered troops to do this. So anyone thinking we’re going to have the army on streets doing testing, that is not a resource that we’re being offered.

“There will be four military planners to help with logistics and the military aid I’m expecting is to actually help us train the trainers within workplaces and key high-risk settings because they’ve got experience now of training people to undertake lateral flow testing.”

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