Covid-19 PCR test kits to be distributed to state secondary schools and colleges in Wandsworth to support surge testing operation

Published: Friday, April 16, 2021

With everyone living in Wandsworth being urged to get tested for Covid 19, the council has confirmed that PCR test kits are being distributed to the borough’s secondary schools and further education providers for their staff, students and parents.

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People living in Wandsworth over the age of 11 need to get tested after a number of cases of the variant first identified in South Africa were detected in both Wandsworth and Lambeth.

This has prompted an urgent call from both Public Health England and NHS Test & Trace for everyone who lives, works, learns or has recently travelled through either of the two boroughs to get tested as quickly as possible, even if they are not displaying any symptoms.

A number of test sites have been set up and kits can be ordered online for home delivery - but to assist in this huge testing operation, state secondaries and colleges in Wandsworth are to receive PCR home testing kits. These will be distributed to pupils and their families so that everyone in their households can get tested.

These PCR tests are different to the lateral flow tests used as part of the routine asymptomatic testing. By using PCR testing, positive results can be sent for genomic sequencing at specialist laboratories, helping to identify variant of concern cases and their spread in these boroughs.

Pupils and staff should also continue using twice-weekly rapid testing as normal.

There is currently no evidence to suggest the variant first identified in South Africa is more serious than others or that vaccines don’t offer good protection against it.

Wandsworth’s Director of Public Health Shannon Katiyo said: “In order to stop the spread of this variant, it is crucial that local people take a PCR test so that we can identify all cases.

“We are working closely with our colleagues in NHS Test & Trace to complete what is clearly an important task, and as part of those efforts, we will be distributing home testing kits to secondary schools and colleges so that pupils aged 11 and over and their families have quick and easy access to take and return the test kit.

“Residents should continue to follow the guidance that is in place – limit your number of contacts, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep your distance and cover your face. If you test positive by any method, you must isolate in order to prevent passing on the virus. Remember hands, face, space – and fresh air.”

Once tests have been completed they should be returned to schools and colleges where they will be collected and sent for analysis by NHS Test and Trace.

Staff at the borough’s primary schools, nurseries and other early years settings can collect home testing kits for themselves from two collection points - Wandsworth Town Hall and the Battersea Sports Centre in Hope Street. Completed tests should be returned to the same collection point from where they will be sent for analysis. Arrangements are also being made to ensure testing kits can be made available to staff and pupils aged 11 and over from the borough’s network of independent schools.

There are six PCR test sites currently open across the borough and tests are also being offered at 23 local pharmacies. Additional test sites are likely to become available in the coming days. To book an appointment at either a mobile site or pharmacy visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/surge-testing.

People can also order a PCR test for home delivery https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test. People should select the option “My local council or health protection team has asked me to get a test, even though I do not have symptoms” when asked why they are requesting a test. Completed test kits should be returned to community collection points in the borough so they can be processed as part of the surge testing operation. Please do not return these test kits by post.

People without symptoms who are unable to book a test online, and don’t know someone who can book for them, can call (020) 8871 6555 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm for help.

People with symptoms can get tested at one of several symptomatic local test sites across Wandsworth. They must book an appointment at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119. People should not visit an asymptomatic test centre or collection point if they are displaying COVID-19 symptoms.

For further information please visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/surge-testing.