Covid-19 testing expanded to include nurseries and childminders in South Tyneside
South Tyneside Council has expanded its provision of lateral flow Covid tests to include childminders and private nurseries.
The tests are used on people who exhibit no symptoms of Covid-19 and can quickly identify those who may have the virus and ensure they self-isolate.
Although government plans to offer tests to nurseries later this month, the council says it has decided to offer the tests to this sector now as it has been identified as a further way to slow the spread of the virus.
The tests are being offered out-of-hours to fit in with their working responsibilities.
The opportunity has been welcomed by certain residents working within the sector as another way to slow the spread of the virus – alongside hand-washing, social-distancing and mask-wearing.
Childminder Amanda Carr-Brown, who runs Amanda’s Childcare from her home in South Shields, with her assistant Lauren Carr, has worked throughout the lockdown.
She said: “Having access to the lateral flow tests every week at the Town Hall is giving us further help to continue providing care.
“The testing is key to helping us stay open as safely as possible and also provides additional reassurance to ourselves and our minding families, alongside all the other Covid secure approaches we have in place.”
The out-of-hours testing offered by the council will be available every week until March 30, subject to extension, and by invitation only.
“A high proportion of Covid cases are transmitted by people who do not have any symptoms,” Councillor Anne Hetherington, Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing, said.
"That is why these rapid turn-around tests can be beneficial as they are a simple way of identifying those people with the virus and asking them to self-isolate, thereby helping to reduce the spread of the virus.”
Coun Hetherington added: “We recognise the vital role childminders and nurseries play in helping parents and carers continue to work.
"This additional practical support is another way of offering confidence and reassurance to a sector which continues to go above and beyond in these challenging times and to the parents who rely on their services.”
Anyone who tests negative in a lateral flow test is reminded to continue to socially distance, wear a face covering, wash their hands and follow the guidance.
If anyone has symptoms of Coronavirus, they should book a test through www.gov.uk or by calling 119.