How many Covid-19 cases are being detected by rapid tests?
- Credit: Suffolk Resilience Forum
Just under 100 positive Covid-19 cases have been identified from more than 400,000 rapid coronavirus tests of school staff, pupils and their family members, according to latest data.
Public Health Suffolk has reported that around 50,000 tests are being carried out per week by family members of school-age children, and that between March 2 and April 23 there were 97 positive cases identified from 409,064 lateral flow device (LFD) tests of pupils, school staff and families.
Stuart Keeble, director of public health in Suffolk, said: “All cases picked up by LFD tests are highly likely to have been asymptomatic, and therefore they would have been unaware they are carrying or transmitting the virus.
"Finding these positive cases is an important element of stopping onwards transmission and risk throughout our communities as the vaccination programme continues.
“No test is perfect and as the rates of Covid-19 fall there is potential for false positives, so anybody who tests positive with a lateral flow device should immediately self-isolate and follow this up with a PCR or symptomatic test for confirmation which can be booked online or via NHS 119.”
Numbers using the Covid-19 rapid testing hubs have fallen in recent weeks as more people take up home testing kits, which can be collected from test centres and libraries or ordered online.
As of March 8 community testing site visitors were at around 8,000 per week but that fell to 3,000 per week by April 12.
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Paul Goodman, group commander for prevention and protection in the public health Covid testing cell of Suffolk Resilience Forum, told last week's Local Outbreak Engagement Board meeting that it was "disappointing" there hadn't been a larger increase in tests given home testing was widely available, but added that they were increasingly hearing that people who have had a vaccination were not testing.
People regularly testing have been urged to make sure they log negative results online, as it is believed many people taking tests are only logging results online if they test positive, which has also made monitoring the actual number of tests being taken more tricky.
Between March 20 and April 18, Public Health Suffolk data indicated that 6,137 boxes of test kits had been collected from community testing sites. Those boxes contain seven tests each, totalling nearly 43,000 tests from those boxes.
In addition, 752 boxes containing 5,264 tests had been collected from libraries up to April 26.
National collections data, which includes pharmacies, online orders and regional testing sites, is not yet available.
The team has also reported a notable increase in LFD tests which are not linked to care homes, education settings or health workers and not carried out at designated testing sites, rising from 2,300 during the week commencing March 1 to around 18,000 as of the week commencing April 12.
Visit the county council website here to find out more about testing sites and how to get hold of home test kits.