Shake-up of Covid rapid test centres - some to close, but new sites to open

Ipswich town centre during Tier 4 restrictions.

Ipswich town centre will get a rapid Covid-19 test centre - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A shake-up of Covid-19 rapid test centres in Suffolk will see some sites close but new sites open - with others relocated and home testing expanded.

Friday's Local Outbreak Engagement Board meeting heard that the number of centres for lateral flow Covid-19 tests - those which give results within half an hour - will reduce or move into town centre high streets to maximise visibility.

At the same time, availability of home testing will increase.

Suffolk County Council has today confirmed locations which will close and the high streets which will get a test centre.

Covid-19 rapid testing centres targeting people who unwittingly have the virus are to open in Haverhill and Lowestoft

Rapid Covid-19 tests take around five minutes to complete with results returned in half an hour - Credit: Suffolk Resilience Forum

New centres

  • Ipswich town centre
  • Ipswich Portman Road
  • Newmarket town centre

Closing by March 31

  • Aldeburgh
  • Southwold
  • Woodbridge
  • Bungay

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Closing by April 16

  • Nayland
  • Brandon
  • Elmswell
  • Needham Market
  • Holbrook
  • Hadleigh
  • Halesworth
  • Eye
  • Saxmundham
  • Debenham

Remaining open with reduced capacity

  • Ipswich Waterfront
  • Bury St Edmunds
  • Lowestoft North
  • Lowestoft South
  • Haverhill
  • Mildenhall
  • Felixstowe
  • Ipswich West
  • Stowmarket
  • Martlesham
  • Sudbury
  • Beccles
  • Framlingham

The council said the exact locations in Ipswich and Newmarket town centres for the test centres are being finalised.

Public Health Suffolk director Stuart Keeble said: “The number of people in Suffolk getting a regular test is significantly growing and this is welcome news in our fight against Coronavirus.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk - Credit: Suffolk County Council

“We know from feedback from people, who use our sites, that home testing is often the preferred manner to take a test and the eligibility of home testing is going to expand significantly over the coming months.

"For me, the key element here is that people continue to test twice weekly – however they may choose to do this.

"The mobile testing teams will also allow us to reach people who may be at greater risk, or where testing take-up is low.

“The government asked us to open testing sites as quickly as possible and it was always our aim to make these as accessible and close to people’s homes.

"We fully expected to adapt this programme as needed and when the national focus changed.”

Four mobile teams will also carry out tests at community events, under-represented areas, local businesses, areas of outbreaks and leisure or tourist hotspots.

The shake-up comes as more home testing kits are set to be made available.

Home tests can be collected from those testing sites - two boxes of seven tests per person or up to four boxes for larger households if test centre staff approve the request.

Home test kits will also be available in pharmacies soon.

Around 57,000 tests have been carried out in Suffolk since the middle of January, identifying 140 positive cases without symptoms.