Suffolk rapid Covid testing centres moving into town centre high streets

Covid-19 rapid testing centres targeting people who unwittingly have the virus are to open in Haverhill and Lowestoft

Changes are being made to Suffolk's rapid Covid-19 testing facilities - Credit: Suffolk Resilience Forum

"Radical" changes to Suffolk's rapid Covid-19 test sites will be made in the next three months, with some centres moving into high streets and home testing set to soar.

The county currently has 28 centres where people without symptoms who cannot work from home are being encouraged to go twice a week.

But Friday's Local Outbreak Engagement Board has been told that with the availability of home testing set to be increased and more restrictions easing, changes are to be made in the next 12 weeks.

Bury St Edmunds town centre during the third UK lockdown Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Rapid Covid-19 test sits are set to move into Suffolk town centre high streets to maximise access - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Alison Huxley, operation lead for Covid testing at Public Health Suffolk said: "Its become clear over the last few months that a lot of people do prefer to take a test at home because it is quicker and easier.

"At the same time the eligibility of home testing has expanded absolutely massively and I think the general direction of travel we are hearing from government now is that pretty much everybody will be eligible for home testing within the next month or so.


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"We are looking at a fairly different delivery model for the next three months, which is now going to run until June at least.

"We are looking at reducing the number of fixed test sites we have got, and reducing the scale and capacity of those sites. The test sites that remain we want to make sure that they are in really visible high street locations in the middle of town centres where people are going to be out and about very shortly.

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"Overall I think we are looking at some fairly radical changes to the current model, but this is going to be a gradual change over the next month or two and our focus is going to be retaining the overall access to testing for our local communities."

A new Profiles gym has opened up in the Athena Hall of UCS on the Ipswich waterfront.

Changes are set to be made to Suffolk's Covid testing sites, like the one at Ipswich Waterfront, in the next three months - Credit: Archant

She added that picking up home test kits will likely be available from pharmacies in the near future.

It has not yet been disclosed how many centres will move or shut as options are currently being finalised, but more information is expected next week.

Lateral flow Covid-19 tests take five-to-10 minutes to complete, with results being texted or emailed to people within an hour. 

Since being set up on January 11, more than 51,000 tests have been completed in the county identifying 131 positive Covid-19 cases. Those are cases where no symptoms have been displayed, meaning rapid tests have resulted in them isolating and ceasing any spread of the virus.

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