As of today (Tuesday, 2 March) rapid Covid testing is available anyone in Manchester who can’t work from home and whose employers or organisations don’t have an asymptomatic testing system in place.
The move is preventative and is to test people who live or work in the city, who do not have symptoms - but could still spread the virus without knowing they have it.
The testing will be on a twice-weekly basis, from six sites across the city. Appointments need to booked in advance by ringing 0161 947 0770 or 0800 092 4020. The booking number is open Monday-Friday. Appointments are available on weekdays and Saturdays at a range of different times to suit work and shift patterns.
The testing uses lateral flow devices (LFD) which involve a swab of the nose and throat – and can give a result within half an hour because it does not require sending off to a lab for analysis.
If the person is negative they can continue to work, but must still follow all the other safety measures including social distancing, hand-washing and face coverings. But if the result is positive they must self-isolate immediately and the result will also feed into the NHS Test and Trace system.
It’s important to note that people still need to be tested within this scheme, even if they have had their Covid vaccination.
Test sites are across the city at Moss Side Leisure Centre, Debdale Outdoor Centre, FC United of Manchester, Hall Lane Resource Centre, Heathfield Resource Centre and the Rates Hall in Manchester Town Hall.
The scheme is also open to smaller businesses, freelancers and sole traders in the city. Larger businesses (50-200 people plus) are encouraged to sign up for the national Government scheme by March 31, which allows them to do their own testing on their premises.
People are also reminded that the current Government message is for people to work from home still wherever possible.
Councillor Bev Craig, Executive Member for Adult Health and Wellbeing at Manchester City Council, said: "We are committed to making our city as safe as possible and that includes every measure to stop the spread of Covid-19. We estimate that around 1 in 3 people can have the virus without knowing it, which makes it imperative that we are vigilant in helping to protect those who cannot work from home, and also the people they work with."
Special needs teacher Donna, explains why Covid vaccine and regular testing help to reassure her and her family
Covid-safety measures are a priority in Donna Rankine’s household, where the mum-of-two and special needs teacher follows a scrupulous routine, before and after work, of changing clothes and showering.
Donna, 49, from Chorlton, has extra reason to be careful as her husband has to shield, her children are both at home, and her Dad - who is in his eighties - is in a support bubble with them and is having an operation today.
“When you think about it, my home is linked to three schools really – there’s Camberwell Park in Moston where I work and my children are at a secondary and primary school too. I’m very aware of the responsibility to the children and families I work with – and those linked to my own,” she says. “In particular my children do worry about me.”
That concern from Donna – who has taught for 28 years– combined with catching Covid in October, is why she felt immense relief at getting the vaccine a week ago, at North Manchester General Hospital.
“It really felt like an historic moment,” she says. “I love what I do and I think people can appreciate that the children we work with have sensory and personal care needs making it impossible to socially distance.
“Having the vaccine, along with regular home testing helps to reassure me that I am doing things the safest way I can for everyone involved.
“The lateral flow testing is also reassuring, especially as it’s possible to have the virus without knowing it. I now do the tests at home, but before that I had the tests done at the FC United site.
Looking to the future Donna has a clear message: “I think it’s your duty to protect all around you – and to take the tests and the vaccine, if you are able to have it. That’s how we will start to get back to life as we remember it.
“Our recent Ofsted inspection described the school as ‘full of smiles and laughter’. When we went back in September the children were delighted to see us and one another.
“So often it’s those small moments that matter – like the class reaction to a ‘talk button’ I put into a story, with a recording of my giggles to explain laughter. Or hearing a non-verbal child say ‘again’ for the first time during a song. That’s just a part of what makes the work so important – getting to see those holistic results for both the children and their families.”