12th April 2021

Director of Public Health encourages all households with school age children to regularly COVID-19 test

Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health at Somerset County Council, urges all Somerset families and households with children to start to take a free Covid-test twice every week.

Each person in a Somerset household with primary, secondary and college age children, including childcare and support bubbles, are encouraged to test themselves at home twice every week to help find more COVID-19 cases and break chains of transmission.

Free ‘lateral flow’ test kits are available to collect from test sites across Somerset between set times. To find your nearest Somerset test collection site, please click https://somerset.maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/ and enter your postcode.

Alternatively, order lateral flow tests online at Schools, nurseries and colleges testing: order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow home test kits – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

As restrictions cautiously ease in England, starting with the return of schools and moving towards more social mixing at the end of March, Covid-19 cases need to be found as quickly and as easily as possible.

Even if vaccinated, testing continues to be a vital part of the response to Covid-19, supporting the roadmap as set out by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Everyone needs to play their part to keep the virus under control while keeping children and young people in school.

With about a third of coronavirus cases showing no symptoms and potentially spreading it without knowing, targeted and regular testing will mean more positive cases within households are found and prevented from entering schools and colleges, helping to keep educational settings safe.

Rapid ‘lateral flow’ testing detects cases quickly – in under 30 minutes – meaning positive cases and their households can start to self-isolate for ten days immediately they receive a positive test result. This can be the difference between children being able to stay in school, or a class being sent home due to an outbreak.

Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health at Somerset County Council said: “It’s fantastic news that from this week, parent/carers and anyone with childminding responsibilities can either order a free Covid-19 test online or collect a test from one of our testing sites based across Somerset. We urge everyone to take up this opportunity and test twice a week to help our fight against Covid.

“Testing regularly, even if you don’t have symptoms, helps to uncover positive cases early.  Even finding only small numbers of positive cases through this regular testing can really help keep the virus in check because every case we find prevents a whole chain of transmission with multiple people in it.

“I would encourage all eligible households to take up the offer of twice weekly rapid testing – it’s quick and painless and will really help us keep infection rates down and our children and young people in school.”

If anyone does a ‘lateral flow test’ at home and gets a positive result, you should book a further test at a local Covid testing site to confirm the result. Also, anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should still book a PCR test online or by calling 119.

Trudi added: “Even if you are vaccinated and even if you self-test and receive a negative result, it’s still vital we all continue to abide by the rules to prevent Covid-19 spreading. The main form of defence against catching and spreading Covid-19 is still ‘hands, face, space’ – remember to wash your hands regularly, try not to touch your face unless you have clean hands, wear a face covering if you can and keep your distance from others. And even if vaccinated, it’s still important you take part in twice-weekly home testing.”