Wolverhampton's rapid testing centre creaks into gear after delay

The country’s first community-led rapid Covid testing centre is up and running in Wolverhampton – but its launch did not go as ministers had planned.

Dr Pranab Ghosh from Wolves
Dr Pranab Ghosh from Wolves

The Government-run site at the Guru Nanak Sikh temple in Sedgley Street, Wolverhampton, had been due to start testing at 7am on Thursday.

However, the dozens of people who turned up expecting a test were met by flustered volunteers and council officers, who explained that the grand opening had been delayed.

The queue at the test centre

The problem was not of their making.

Vital supplies including PPE had not arrived on schedule, while full directions on how to administer tests had not been provided to all volunteers.

Organisers were left with no choice but to call a postponement.

More Covid-19 coverage:

The Department for Health and Social Care, which is in charge of the pilot scheme, advised members of the public of the delay and suggested they should return 24 hours later.

At it happened, the operation clicked into gear late on Thursday afternoon.

By 3pm a queue of around 20 people had formed. After filling in registration forms they began to file into the temple site. Some of them had been turned away earlier that day but had returned because they were keen to get a test.

Kirsty Prashar at the test centre

Kirsty Prashar, aged 32, a teacher at a city school, said it was "fantastic" that volunteers were helping to run the scheme. She was tested after a wait of around 20 minutes.

She said: "It's a really quick process. You do it all yourself and it is really simple. Then you get the results so quickly - finding out in 30 minutes is brilliant."

The pilot is considered vital for providing information on community testing, and comes ahead of a planned roll-out of rapid testing across 67 local authorities, including Wolverhampton, Dudley, Staffordshire and Birmingham.

People read up on important information

That scheme had been due to go live this week, according to NHS chiefs, but has also been delayed, with many local authority areas still yet to receive batches of 10,000 testing kits.

Ministers want to gather as much information as possible ahead of a national roll-out of mass testing.

Baroness Dido Harding, interim executive chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said: “This pilot is one of many which will lay the foundations for the next phase of NHS Test and Trace – mass testing – which will allow us to test even more people, even more quickly.”

Malkit Singh Clare, 78, and Jit Singh Vopari, 73

The temple pilot scheme is aimed at people who have no Covid symptoms, with health chiefs concerned that people are unwittingly spreading the virus around communities because they do not realise they are infected.

The country’s mass testing trial in Liverpool recorded 700 positive tests over 10 days from people who had no symptoms.

Wolverhampton’s Director of Public Health, John Denley, said the lateral flow antigen tests – which give results in around 30 minutes – would be a major tool in the city’s fight against Covid.

An information leaflet

“This will help break the chain of transmission and reduce the spread of the virus,” he said.

Testing facilities are due to be available at the site each day from 7am to 7pm, until November 30. People with Covid symptoms should not attend.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News