Coronavirus testing to take place in all Black Country care homes
Coronavirus testing is now being offered at every care home in the Black Country.
Everyone living and working at a care home in region has either been tested or will be tested in the next week after proactive swabbing began a few weeks ago.
The most 'high risk' residents were swabbed late last month before the plan was rolled out to all local care homes a short time later.
The swabbing shows whether or not individuals have symptoms of Covid-19, such as a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste.
In total, around 7,500 people living in 274 care homes across Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall are being tested.
It comes after 487 deaths were reported in care homes across the Black Country, Birmingham and Staffordshire since April 10.
Sally Roberts, chief nurse for the Black Country and West Birmingham CCGs, said: “Our teams across the NHS are pleased to be working with care homes and our local authorities to identify cases of coronavirus.
“It is important that we do all we can to protect those most vulnerable in our communities and supporting care homes with proactive testing is the latest way we are doing that. Once cases are identified we can better ensure the safety of others in the care home setting.”
Speaking on behalf of the four Black Country directors of public health, Wolverhampton Council's John Denley said he and the other directors wanted to do all they could to protect the most vulnerable members of society during the pandemic.
He said: "People living in our care homes are among the most vulnerable members of society and we want to do all we can to protect them – and the care staff who are working tirelessly to keep them safe - during this national emergency.
“Proactive swabbing in our region's care homes is playing an important part in our drive to identify and treat cases of coronavirus at an earlier stage and is helping reduce the risk of outbreaks in our care homes as much as possible.
"Through this work, we've been able to identify a number of cases and to support care providers to manage them more appropriately. What is perhaps worth noting is that Covid-19 does not seem to be as endemic in our region’s care homes as may otherwise have been perceived, and that’s testament to the hard work of care staff and the stringent infection control measures our homes have put in place to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“Proactive swabbing and testing forms part of a broader package of help offered by the four Black Country councils and the local clinical commissioning groups and NHS trusts, including support and guidance to prevent outbreaks occurring and ensuring the right personal protective equipment is available to frontline staff.
"This work continues, and in the meantime, we all continue to have a role to play in preventing the spread of coronavirus, and that’s why it’s crucial that everyone follows the Government's social distancing measures and stays at home unless absolutely necessary."