A call has been made for the government to give more backing to councils in the coronavirus testing process.Advertisement
Preston City Council’s leader councillor Matthew Brown has revealed how more than 100 people were contacted door-to-door by council staff in the city as part of track and trace.
He has also highlighted concerns about the city’s testing centres, at the Markets and Moor Park, being decommissioned and replaced with a ‘permanent’ testing site which can only be used by those reporting Covid-19 symptoms.
The Markets and Moor Park are community testing sites which allow those who are asymptomatic to be tested at a walk-in appointment.
No location has yet been given for where the new testing centre will be – with Moor Park due to cease operation on Sunday 11 October.
Councillor Brown told a virtual meeting of the full council: “We are proud of our involvement and the local support we have provided to the national track and trace system to date.
“Since we have taken on this role, we have received around 300 local contacts a week and conducted over 100 home visits to those with whom contact could not be made in other ways.
“It is a demanding task that has required staff to be urgently re-purposed and as such we are grateful for the small amount of funding that has been providing to support this.
“Similarly, we have worked very closely with the Public Health team at Lancashire County Council to facilitate well-run, adaptive local community testing sites which have processed thousands of tests for our residents despite a crisis in the national testing system.
“With the closure of the community sites I am highly concerned that we need to be able to ensure that there is sufficient capacity for our residents, but also that facilities in Preston are available for drop-in and open to asymptomatic individuals given the high rates of infection across the city.”
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Read more: Two Preston food outlets given ‘closure’ notices due to breaching curfew
Preston currently has the second-highest coronavirus infection rate in Lancashire.
Councillor Brown’s comments come as it is widely reported the government is considering a tightening of the lockdown restrictions for ‘the North’ from Monday.
This could include pub and restaurants being forced to close, no overnight stays and other restrictions being tightened.
Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines
What do you think about councillor Brown’s comments? Should councils be more involved? Let us know in the comments below