The Covid testing site to discover the South African Covid-19 variant in Southport is now open. 

It is situated at the former Park and Ride site at Foul Lane in Kew. 

One case of someone with the South African variant was discovered in the Norwood Ward area of Southport PR9. 

People who live or work in the area are being invited to get tested at the centre at Kew Park and Ride. 

Residents from and workers in PR9 in Norwood Ward can just turn up, they might be asked for postcode ID such as a letter.

Council officials will also start today going door to door in the Norwood Ward area carrying home testing kits which they are asking people to complete if they are able to do so. 

Sefton Council Chief Executive Dwayne Johnson said today “The Sefton site is now open and a BIG thanks to Merseyside Fire Brigade for helping and staffing our mobile and to the voluntary sector for all their support.

“Our mobile testing site will be open this morning at Kew Park and Ride site at Foul Lane.

“Door to door will also start today.

“Please watch out for bogus callers. Our staff will have ID and will NOT ask for card details or money.

“Well done Council staff – done in 48 hours.”

Norwood Ward in Southport

Anyone who lives or works in the affected area will be offered a test. However it does not mean that the whole of Southport will be tested, only a specific area where the case has been detected. This is mainly the Norwood Ward, which includes parts of High Park and the surrounding area. 

Sefton Council has now set up a dedicated test site for the new variant.

Everyone aged over 16 in the area targeted is encouraged to get tested as soon as possible, even if they don’t have symptoms.

This will help health officials to find any cases of the new variant and help stamp it out.

Team of people will knock on doors

The new Mobile Testing Unit set up in Norwood Ward is specifically to identify cases of the South African variant, and is only intended for people working and living in the target areas.

For elsewhere within PR9, and indeed the rest of the borough, there is testing availability for those with and without symptoms.  More information is given below, and can also be found on the council website https://www.sefton.gov.uk/miscellaneous-pages/coronavirus-testing.aspx

Sefton Council is also working with the Department for Health on a range of targeted local publicity and information including posters, local radio and social media. This will include details of exactly what they can expect when someone calls with a test as well as information and advice on self-isolation.

No evidence that South African Covid variant is any more severe than others

At the moment, the council says there is no evidence to suggest that this variant is any more severe than others.

For schools, including those in Southport, this means they will continue doing all the things they have been doing as identified in their risk assessments.

Sefton Council says that it seems this new variant can still be combated through vaccination, although it could be more transmissible, which means it could spread more quickly.

That’s why it is important Sefton carries out this additional testing to try and identify it and to limit the number of us who might be exposed to it.

People with and without symptoms asked to get tested

Council officials are asking as many people as possible in the target postcodes to get tested even though they don’t have symptoms, so they can find any cases of the new variant and to help suppress it. 

The more cases of the variant found, the better the chance of suppressing it.

Sefton Council will be working with partners to provide advice and support online, and on the ground, so that they can work together and continue to make progress towards a return to a more normal life for all of us.

Sefton says there is no reason for most of us to change our behaviour as a result of this news, as long as we are already following the national regulations.

This means staying at home except for essential purposes such as shopping for essential supplies, going to work if we can’t do so from home and providing care. It also means maintaining at least 2-metres’ distancing, wearing a mask or face covering while out and about and washing our hands frequently.  If you test positive by any method, you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.

People outside of the area identified for the South African variant testing who develop coronavirus symptoms of a high temperature, persistent new cough or loss of their sense of taste or smell, should book a test by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Mobile Covid test units operate throughout Sefton

Mobile Test Units have been operating in Sefton since April. Units are scheduled at locations across the Borough through February.

There are also walk-through test sites at Bootle Town Hall, Crosby Library Car Park, Netherton Activity Centre and Southport Town Hall. Open every day from 8am to 8pm, providing easy access to COVID-19 tests for people who do not have access to a car and for those who have symptoms and should not travel by public transport.

Key workers and people with caring commitments during the lockdown should go regularly for SMART tests, which tell people if they are carrying the COVID-19 virus without knowing in as little as 30 minutes.

Open from 8am to 8pm to make it easier for working people to attend them, the walk-through SMART testing sites are at Bootle Leisure Centre, Splash World in Southport and Aintree Racecourse. No appointments are needed.

Support and advice, including information on financial support, is available at www.sefton.gov.uk/self-isolation for anyone who is required to isolate because they have tested positive for COVID-19.

Further information, and a range of FAQs can be found at https://www.sefton.gov.uk/covid-19-in-sefton/

Do you have any stories for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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