Door-to-door COVID-19 PCR testing is to take place in targeted areas of North Tyneside from today (Wednesday 26 May).
North Tyneside Council is working with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to deliver tests to some households in a number of targeted areas, starting with parts of North Shields, Wallsend and Whitley Bay.
These areas have been identified as having positive cases for the COVID-19 variant first discovered in India.
This additional door-to-door testing is being carried out in order to gather more information and effectively monitor community transmission. It is not in response to coverage around updated government guidance on travelling in and out of North Tyneside.
Targeted door-to-door testing is in addition to enhanced testing already underway in North Tyneside and extra vaccine services now available in the borough.
Everyone over the age of 12 in households which are visited is asked to take a test even if they have no symptoms of COVID-19; have been vaccinated; or have tested positive previously (but not within the last 90 days of a PCR test).
Tests will be collected the same day. Leaflets urging householders to get tested at pop-up PCR testing sites in the borough will be put through letter boxes if there is no answer at the door.
Positive tests will be genomically sequenced to identify any further spread of the variant, enabling a better understanding of the variant and identifying if there are any more cases of this particular strand of the virus in this area.
Wendy Burke, North Tyneside Director of Public Health, said: “It is really important that everyone who is visited at their home takes the test, regardless of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or not, to help us find out if and where the virus is spreading and whether there are any more cases of the variant.
“PCR tests are different from the rapid lateral flow tests you might already be using at home as they are sent off to a lab to be checked, so they are more accurate in identifying positive cases and finding any new strains or patterns in virus behaviour.
“This door-to-door testing is in addition to the enhanced testing offer and increased availability of vaccinations currently available in the borough, which we’re encouraging people to take advantage of.”
Peter Heath, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are working closely with our colleagues at North Tyneside Council on this vital community safety activity to help deliver the door-to-door Covid testing to residents in the area. The experience and additional skills that our staff have gained over the past 12 months will be vital to the successful delivery of this operation, and the ultimate end result being the safety of people living and working in North Tyneside and the surrounding areas.”
The latest COVID-19 case rate in North Tyneside is 55 per 100,000 in the last week.
To date there have been around 40 confirmed cases of the variant, first identified in India, found in parts of the borough. This figure includes people Test and Trace has identified through enhanced contact tracing who were already self-isolating.
Case numbers are expected to increase as more people are tested.
Surge testing sites are open in three locations around the borough - Shiremoor, next to Aldi and Costa; Bedford Street, North Shields; and at Wallsend Forum, behind the Anson pub. These are for people without COVID-19 symptoms.
People with symptoms should stay at home and self-isolate immediately and book a test the usual way - online or by calling 119.
The existing test sites at The Parks Leisure Centre in North Shields and the Coronation Street car park in Wallsend should continue to only be used by those with symptoms.
Enhanced testing is in addition to lateral flow tests which the government encourage everyone to do twice a week.
Anyone who tests positive or are contact traced following contact with someone who tests positive should self-isolate immediately.
There’s more information about getting tested in North Tyneside here.
Meanwhile, people who are eligible but who have not yet had their first vaccine are urged to book as soon as they can. Everyone aged over 30 can book an appointment and thousands of appointments are available in community locations across North Tyneside. New eligible age groups are also being announced regularly.
Extra vaccination services offering the AstraZeneca vaccine for over 40s only are available without appointment at the following locations and times:
- Wednesday 26 May, 9am–6pm at Shiremoor Northumberland Park, next to Costa and Aldi, NE27 0FG
- Thursday 27 May, 3pm–6pm North Shields town centre
- Friday 28 May, 9am–6pm – North Shields town centre
- Saturday 29 May, 9am–6pm – Location to be confirmed
There are over 15,000 weekly appointments available in North Tyneside via the NHS National Booking Service or call 119 between 7am and 11pm.
More appointments become available regularly so please keep checking back.
You will only be offered an appointment at a location using vaccine products that are recommended for your age and circumstances.
Residents are asked to exercise caution and continue to follow all the sensible public health precautions: wearing a face covering when required, regular handwashing, maintaining social distancing and letting in plenty of fresh air or good ventilation when indoors.
Anyone in need of financial support due to having to self-isolate can find out more about the Test and Trace support payment here.