General

Update on Surge Testing operation

The COVID-19 Surge Testing operation in Woking is now in its third day, with a fantastic response from residents in the selected area.

More than 74% of residents contacted have returned a testing kit, with results already being issued.

5,029 kits were delivered by the end of Wednesday, with more than half of the selected households visited, and 3,761 test kits had been collected.

The surge testing operation, planned alongside Department of Health & Social Care and Public Health England, and delivered by Surrey Local Resilience Forum (SLRF), is aimed at understanding any community spread of a variant of COVID-19 known as SARS-CoV-2 (or VOC-202012/02) which originated in South Africa.

Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, said: “I want to say thank you to everyone involved. The reaction from residents has been excellent. We made sure they were forewarned – most people will have seen our operation on the national news programmes I’m sure – and the volunteers are wonderful, explaining everything clearly.

“The atmosphere out on the ground is very positive and friendly, with people appreciating why we were doing this and eager to play their part in any way they can.”

It is expected that the Woking operation will be completed by the end of Friday, with all 10,000 testing kits having been issued.

It is important to note that there may be a small number of homes within the selected area that will not have been visited, once all test kits have been issued. Residents should not worry if they haven’t been contacted, they should continue to follow the national guidance and only request a kit if they start to experience symptoms.

Egham & Thorpe

The early success of the testing in Woking has helped inform planning for the next area in Surrey to be targeted, in Runnymede.

The operation in parts of Egham and Thorpe is in its final planning stages, with the map of the selected area now available for residents to view online and the door to door visits likely to start from Saturday morning.

The Egham & Thorpe Surge Testing Operation will replicate the Woking one, with volunteers – this time from Runnymede Borough Council and other Local Resilience Forum (SLRF) partners – visiting properties in the selected area with the aim of delivering 10,000 testing kits.

The volunteers will talk to residents on the doorstep from a safe distance, then post the kits through the letterbox.

They will then return later in the day to collect the completed test, with the kits then sent on for processing. Residents should get their positive/negative result within 48 hours.

Ruth Hutchinson, Surrey Director of Public Health, said: “It’s really important to say that there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, so you don’t need to worry. You don’t need to do anything different, the same rules about lockdown that have been in place since early January still apply, and always remember – hands, face, space.

“This test is a precautionary measure – the more cases of the variant we find, the better picture we have of how the virus is spreading and changing. By playing your part and taking the test you’ll be helping to keep your community and your loved ones safe.”

Guidance

It is important to stress that if you live in a surge testing area, national restrictions remain the same as they have been since the lockdown began on the 4th January.

It is essential that we all continue to follow the Government advice to stay home and limit social contact with other households (or those outside your bubble) whenever possible. You can still leave the house for essential reasons, including:

  • To shop for basic necessities
  • To go to work if you can’t work from home
  • For exercise, with your household, bubble or just you and one other person
  • To seek medical assistance or to avoid risk of harm
  • To meet your support bubble or childcare bubble
  • To attend education or childcare if you are eligible

If you are in the selected surge testing area you will be visited over the coming days by volunteers with test kits. You do not need to call or go online to apply for a test kit and you do not need to go to a Mobile Testing Unit or pick-up point.

For those people who are essential workers and not home when we visit, and for those who cannot do the test themselves, there is a mobile testing unit in the area that is available for walk-ins, but please stay at home a use the kits from volunteers wherever possible.

Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 however, must stay home and book a test via the NHS website or 119.

By staying at home, we can all help stop the spread of COVID-19. If you do need to leave your home for essential reasons please ensure to keep your distance, wash your hands and cover your nose and mouth. If you test positive by any method, you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus. 

Notes:

Further information including map of the affected area available at www.surreycc.gov.uk/surgetesting.

Woking and Egham are two of a small number of areas within the UK where this surge testing operation is taking place.

The Surrey Local Resilience Forum has been working on the COVID response for Surrey since March 2020 and is made up of local partners including Surrey County Council, Surrey Police, District & Borough Councils, Surrey Fire & Rescue Service, Public Health England, local health services, volunteer organisations and others.

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