Bracknell Forest Council understands the frustrations of local residents who are struggling to get local COVID-19 tests, so is urging people only to get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms or have been officially advised they need to get tested.
There is a national shortage of laboratory capacity to analyse tests, with demand currently outstripping supply, which has meant that some local residents have not been able to access tests locally.
In a bid to help reduce demand, the council is asking that only people with COVID-19 symptoms, or those who have been advised by an official organisation, like the NHS or a local authority, apply for a test.
COVID-19 symptoms include:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
Cllr Marc Brunel-Walker, Chairman of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board, said:
“We completely understand the frustrations of residents who have symptoms but are unable to access local tests. The testing shortage is a national issue that is impacting us here in Bracknell Forest, with some residents being advised to travel miles for a test.
“If you do not have symptoms please do not apply for a test, this will help to reduce the demand. If you do have symptoms and can’t get one locally, please do try again in a couple of hours as more local slots may have opened up in that time.
“Understandably, some people may wish to be tested ‘just in case’ but if you aren’t symptomatic or haven’t been asked to test by an official organisation like the NHS or council, please do not apply for a test.”
Demand for testing is increasing and priority is being given to areas of concern (those with more COVID-19 cases), which means areas with a lower number of cases (such as Bracknell Forest) are having less capacity.
Meradin Peachey, Acting Deputy Director of Public Health Berkshire, said:
“We understand that there are national constraints in the processing of test results which is limiting the availability of tests locally. The testing system is prioritising areas of the country where there are higher levels of COVID-19 infections. Berkshire has lower case numbers than elsewhere in the country and in the last week over 97% of tests on Berkshire residents were negative.”
A COVID-19 mobile testing unit for pre-booked tests only, will be available in Bracknell on Friday, 11 and Saturday, 12 September between the hours of 10:30am and 3:30pm.
Appointments can be booked 24 hours in advance. Please only book a test if you have symptoms. If you do not have symptoms, please leave available slots for those who need them.
People identified as a close contact should not use testing as a way of breaking the self-isolation period. If you have had a negative test, you should still isolate for the whole period due to the virus’ incubation period.
If you have been identified as a contact of a case, then you should isolate for 14 days. 14 days covers the incubation and infectious periods of the infection. You do not need a test unless you have symptoms but if you do have a test and it comes back negative, you still need to isolate for the whole period. The same applies if you are isolating having returned from overseas.
The COVID-19 testing centre at Montem, Slough, is no longer accepting drop ins. Only people with an appointment will be given a test.