First COVID-19 Neighborhood Testing Unit to Open in South Gloucestershire at UWE Bristol’s Frenchay Campus

The first coronavirus testing facility is due to open tomorrow in South Gloucestershire.

The facility will provide more capacity for residents and students at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) to get tested as part of the UK government’s efforts to improve the accessibility of coronavirus testing.

The center will be set up on UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus and will include a pass through exam for residents and a pass through service for students.

The unit is operated on behalf of the Department of Health and Welfare (DHSC) and reduces the need for people with symptoms to travel further to be tested.

The tests at the new location will begin on Thursday October 1st and will only be carried out by appointment. Current government guidelines state that only those with symptoms should book a test.

The council, as part of its ongoing work with partners, requested additional capacity for South Gloucestershire to monitor and halt the spread of COVID-19 in the district.

A request was made to add local testing capacity rather than in response to weekly case numbers, which are expected to continue to fluctuate.

South Gloucestershire Council Cabinet Member for Public Health Council Ben Stokes and Public Health Director Sara Blackmore said, “Our public health team continues to work closely with our partners in the local NHS and national Test and Trace System together to ensure our local system outbreak management plan means that in cases of COVID-19 we can work system-wide to ensure they are contained.

“We are happy to have additional testing facilities on site as people in South Gloucestershire had to travel quite a long distance to be tested. We hope that this new capacity will increase the number of test appointments generally available and help decrease the distance of people and help stop the spread of the virus.

“We would also like to thank everyone for their continued efforts to do the right thing by observing social distancing, washing their hands and wearing a mask where advised to help us all work together to prevent the spread of Stop COVID-19 ”

The facility is self-contained, meaning that the public who arrive for pre-booked tests in their cars and students who walk to pre-booked tests don’t have to mix. Clear signage will be put in place to let those with appointments know where and how to use the service, and drivers arriving for tests are not required to leave their cars for any reason.

Nobody arriving for a test has to go into university buildings. Students must wear face masks on the way to and from the test center.

Test units work six days a week. The availability of dates for testing is dependent on the capacity of the testing laboratories, which is beyond the control of the council. People who book appointments are forwarded to the closest available test facility at the time of booking on the portal.

Professor Steve West, Vice Chancellor at UWE Bristol, said, “We are excited to host a government testing center on campus, supporting our students and the wider community at a time when more testing capacity is required regionally and nationally.

“The securely managed center will reduce travel times for the public and provide an easily accessible place for students to take tests in the event they develop Covid-19 symptoms.

“Because the center is completely separate, citizens don’t need to have access to university buildings, and students don’t have to leave our Covid-safe campus to get their free swab test.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, UWE Bristol has played an important role in supporting the national response to Covid-19, including the opening of a Nightingale Hospital on campus, and we are proud to continue to support the concerted effort with this test site. ”

Anyone who tests positive for the virus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to trace their contacts.

This helps people identify who they may have been in close contact with and protects others from further transmission.

Close contacts of those who test positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, advising them to stay home for 14 days to prevent unwittingly spreading the virus.

They are also advised to book a test if they develop symptoms.

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