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Council launches increased Covid testing in Kirklees

There will also be a “major” public information campaign.

Kirklees Council says it is taking “immediate action” to reduce coronavirus infection rates following localised spikes in Covid-19 and avoid a local lockdown.

It includes increased testing in affected areas, a “major” public information campaign and mobilising staff to work with the public in areas with the highest rates to offer advice on staying safe as the lockdown eases.

The council says it is determined to keep numbers low to protect lives as well as vital health and care services.

An outreach operation, involving councillors and hundreds of council staff in communities most affected by the virus, is already underway.

It is operating in Ravensthorpe, Saville Town and Batley West and focusing on people in the 20-40 year age range.

In addition an extra mobile testing unit (MTU) is available in Batley at Wards Hill car park.

An existing MTU in Dewsbury has been moved to Cliffe Street car park. The units will be available to test anyone who thinks they may have symptoms.

The council says increased testing in affected areas will give local people and public health officials a better understanding of how the virus is affecting communities in North Kirklees.

The move follows the release last week of new data by the Government that showed a small increase in cases in Kirklees.

The council’s Strategic Director of Public Health, Rachel Spencer-Henshall said: “We’ve been waiting for data that can help us target action for months.

“Now that we know more, we have acted quickly to get support into communities where we can have the biggest impact and bring infection rates down.”

The council stressed that infection rates in the borough remain well below those seen in Leicester.

Ms Spencer-Henshall said there was no room for complacency.

She added: “The council and its partners have thousands of interactions with people and communities every day.

“We will make the most of those conversations, and create more, so that everyone understands their role in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

“Data is hugely helpful but it never gives a complete picture.

“We are very likely to see infection rates go up and down in communities and pockets in different parts of Kirklees in the coming weeks and months.

“We’re ready to deploy staff and testing units anywhere in Kirklees if we think it will help bring rates down.

“And we will be coming up with new ways of supporting people to bring rates down all the time.

“We are focusing our efforts in parts of North Kirklees for now but the advice is the same for everyone, whatever age you are and wherever you live.

“Keep social distancing, wash your hands regularly and isolate if you have symptoms or are contacted by the NHS test and trace service.”

Residents can expect to receive a letter later this week containing the latest information and advice on stopping the spread of the virus.

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