All 513 students, staff and school pupils in Cirencester had negative test results for covid as part of a mass trial, as of yesterday, writes Leigh Boobyer.
Gloucestershire’s public health team launched its lateral flow testing pilot last week in Cirencester for pupils and staff from the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), Deer Park School and Cirencester College.
As of yesterday morning (December 8), all the pupils and staff which had been tested were negative and a further 170 were set to be tested later in the day.
The lateral flow devices are what were used as part of a trial in Liverpool last month which saw tens of thousands of people tested for the coronavirus.
The tests are offered to people whether they have symptoms or not, and they can be self-administered with a nose and throat swap with 30 minute results.
Gloucestershire County Council said the pilot in Cirencester will last until December 18, and it is not yet known exactly where the trial will go next.
Gloucestershire’s public health director Sarah Scott said: “It is worth saying there is quite a lot of logistical considerations in rolling out these pilots, but we really wanted to help the RAU because they were not able to access the university testing programme.
“And we felt it was only right that the students at the RAU had the opportunity ot have the test before they went home for Christmas.
“We launched it on Thursday, and we also thought it was a good opportunity to learn how we might roll out pilots in other parts of the county and working in settings.
“We have already invited students and staff from Deer Park Secondary School and Cirencester College to come and be tested because we are obviously seeing some outbreaks in our schools.
“We are seeing the impact on whole classes or year groups having to self-isolate.
“There are lots of pilots going on elsewhere in the country about how best to use the lateral flow devices to better manage outbreaks in schools, and they are very much in the pilot stage and we have yet to learn from them.
Gloucestershire’s public health director Sarah Scott said on BBC Radio Gloucestershire on Monday (December 7) they would look to areas with high rates of infection.
Gloucester has the highest case rates per 100,000 of the population, according to the latest figures, which are concentrated in one of its most deprived areas, Barton and Tredworth.
Ms Scott said letters are being sent to every household in the two wards with “general advice”.
She previously said the second national lockdown brought cases down, with 684 positive recorded coronavirus cases between November 21 and 27 compared to 960 in the previous seven-day period.