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Bradford open new COVID-19 testing centre in city centre

Health chiefs say it will serve as a “very visible” reminder that COVID-19 has not gone away.

A COVID 19 testing station will be set up in the heart of Bradford city centre next week.

Based in Centenary Square, the walk in testing centre will allow people with symptoms of the virus, but who are not able to access the District’s drive through test centres, to get tested.

And public health chiefs say the highly visible location will also act as a “very visible” reminder to the public that the virus has not gone away.

But some Councillors have questioned whether people with symptoms of the deadly virus should be encouraged to come to the city centre as workers and shoppers begin to return.

Details of the plans were revealed at a meeting of Bradford Council’s Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee at a meeting on Thursday evening, where Councillors were told what efforts were being made to tackle any local outbreaks of Covid 19.

The dangers of the virus spreading were highlighted this week when it was announced that 165 workers at Cleckheaton based Kober meat plant had tested positive for the disease.

The testing centre will be available for anyone in the District who has symptoms of COVID-19, such as a high temperature, a new cough, or a change in sense of taste or smell.

Strict infection control measures will be in place.

However, with people who have symptoms of Covid-19 urged not to use public transport, anyone attending the centre will have to make their own way there

A face covering will need to be worn, and social distancing must also be followed at all times, when at the site and while travelling to and from it.

Test results should be made available within 24-72 hours.

Kathryn Ingold, Consultant in Public Health at Bradford Council, told Thursday’s meeting that the centre was part of the Council’s outbreak control plan.

The plan sets out what can be done to prevent outbreaks within the district. Mrs Ingold said the plan would give the Council “Draconian” lockdown powers – but added: “We hope we never have to use those powers. We hope we are able to manage Covid 19 by consensus, but we will have the legal powers if we need them.”

After she told members about the planned testing centre in Centenary Square, Councillor Robert Hargreaves (Cons, Queensbury) said: “I’m a bit concerned about this walk in centre.

“People with symptoms are encouraged not to mix with others. This will be putting people with symptoms into part of the city centre, A city centre that is trying to get back on its feet.

“There might be better places to put this than Centenary Square.”

Mrs Ingold said he had raised a good point, and this had been considered. But she said there were people who were unable to drive to the existing testing centres, and were unable to get postal tests.She added: “We want to encourage people to get tested. Once they are tested we are able to access who they have been in contact with and shut down any risk of an outbreak.”

She added: “There will be strong messages about wearing face coverings. People can arrive by private car, walk, cycle or even skateboard or roller skate here.”

After the meeting the Council’s Director of Public Health, Sarah Muckle, said: “The site selection is also a very visible reminder to all of us that we are still living with COVID-19 – it has not gone away.

“We must all play our role by continuing to adhere to social distancing and regular handwashing, especially during the next phase of lockdown measures being eased.”

Cllr Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places said, “This represents another step forward in our ongoing work to protect the people of Bradford.  By safely providing tests in a highly accessible location, the unit will make it far easier for many more people to be tested. The quicker we can detect the virus, the quicker we can support those people to isolate and prevent any further spread within the community.

“This initiative puts Bradford at the forefront of testing and meets the national aim of creating more accessible testing sites.”

She added: “This is just one of a number of new and more flexible initiatives we are piloting to expand our local support to the NHS Test and Trace programme.

“This holds the key to containing the onward spread of the virus, freeing up capacity in the NHS, and restarting the economy – while at the same time guarding against the return of a second ‘wave’ of infections

Council Leader, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe said “We have a good track record in the district of testing because of our own local Marley Fields testing site in Keighley which complements the national testing sites.

“I’m pleased we’ve been able to test all the staff in the care homes of the district because of the facility at Marley Fields.

“That has contributed to getting the infection rate down in care homes.  Now, with this new site in the city centre, I think there’s an opportunity to broaden out and offer testing to other frontline workers.

“I’ll be asking NHSE to offer testing to bus drivers, train drivers and taxi drivers, for example and there will be other professions too. I would welcome a positive response.”

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