Covid-19 tests are now available to anyone aged five or over who has coronavirus symptoms.
Symptoms to look out for include a new continuous cough or high temperature or loss/change in normal sense of smell or taste. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should self-isolate and arrange to be tested using the NHS Covid-19 app or at the Isle of Wight satellite testing facility.
Island residents who record their symptoms via the app will be connected to a call centre where they can order a swab test, which will be sent directly to them and collected the following day. Anyone they have been in close contact with, who also has the app, will be alerted anonymously via a 'ping' and given guidance on what to do next.
For those who cannot use the app to report symptoms, such as other family members of the symptomatic individual or anyone who does not have a smart phone, the drive-through satellite coronavirus testing facility at 1Leisure Medina in Newport is available and is now operated by Isle of Wight NHS Trust.
This centre has provided more than 2,000 tests since it first opened last month - appointments are available Monday to Saturday between 9am to 2.30pm and can be booked by telephone. On arrival a self-test kit is provided which involves taking a swab from the throat and the nose to identify if coronavirus is present. This means those who test negative for coronavirus can return to work as soon as possible, and those who test positive are able to isolate whilst they recover.
Alison Smith, Managing Director for NHS Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It's welcome news that more people, who are showing symptoms, can now be tested for Covid-19 on the island. The fact we have our own testing facility is great because it reduces the need to travel to the mainland for a test. And of course we are the first area in the country to be using the NHS Covid-19 App – that's another way for you to obtain a test. If you think you may have the virus then notify the app, and after that you will be connected to a call centre to order a swab test that will be sent directly to you.”
Sara Weech, Project Lead for the testing centre, said: “I have been really impressed with how well the team has come together very quickly and at short notice to provide a much needed testing service for the Island. We know the test can cause anxiety but we hope we have been able to reassure families when they are here and to talk them through the process. The Covid-19 PCR tests whether a person has the coronavirus; it is not an antibody test to identify if they have had, or are immune to, the virus. Ideally you need to have the test in the first five days of having symptoms and if using the testing centre, you should book to take a test as soon as possible. Completed tests leave the Island the same day and results should be available within five days.”
Simon Bryant, Director of Public Health for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Councils said: “By making it easy for those with symptoms to get tested, including children over five years old, and with the digital contact tracing provided by the NHS Covid-19 app, we can continue to reduce transmission of the virus across the Island. Not only can we alert residents who may have been exposed so they can take action to protect themselves and others, this enhanced testing means younger family members can now be tested too. If uptake and use of testing and the app is widespread it will give us the greatest success to begin to enable the return to normality.”