Asymptomatic coronavirus testing pilot starts with college students from next week

Weston College Knightstone Campus.

Weston College Knightstone Campus. Picture: MARK ATHERTON - Credit: Archant

North Somerset Council plans to bring community asymptomatic Covid-19 testing to the area after launching its pilot for Weston College students and staff next week. 

The authority hopes to start to offer the tests, which give results in less than a day, to those at the college who are not showing symptoms of coronavirus from Wednesday.  

The move is part of plans to bring targeted community testing to North Somerset, which could be further extended by government tier three testing options in the future. 

The council says community testing to find people with Covid-19 with no symptoms is helpful, as those infected can then isolate and prevent the virus from spreading. 

Cllr Mike Bell.

Cllr Mike Bell. - Credit: Archant

North Somerset Council executive member for health, Mike Bell, said: “By taking a test, you could be saving a life as you reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19, so I encourage anyone who is offered a test to take it up. 

“Throughout the pandemic, we have worked closely with Weston College and we are grateful for their support and cooperation with this testing pilot.” 

From next week, students and staff at Weston College will start to get invitations to take part in the pilot and have a test, which uses a sample of saliva to look for signs of Covid-19.  

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It is hoped testing will begin on Wednesday at a pop-up facility at the college’s Loxton Road campus. 

Weston College Loxton Campus.

Weston College Loxton Campus. - Credit: Google Street View

Weston College principal, Dr Paul Phillips, said: “The greatest concern expressed to me by staff is that they want testing to be in place for both themselves and learners.  

Dr Paul Phillips CBE, principal of Weston College.

Dr Paul Phillips CBE, principal of Weston College. - Credit: Archant

“We have been working with North Somerset Council to respond and I am really pleased we are able to be the first organisation to take part in the pilot for asymptomatic community testing.” 

Director of Public Health, Matt Lenny, said: “Community testing in North Somerset will help us suppress the virus by helping us find people who have no symptoms who would otherwise be spreading Covid-19.  

“It is an important reminder that anyone can spread the virus without having symptoms, so we have to keep going with all of behaviours that protect ourselves, our family and our community.  

“Washing your hands, wearing a face-covering if you can and staying at least two metres away from anyone not in your household or support bubble are still the most important things everyone can do to stop the spread of Covid-19.” 

The council says community testing is different from the tests already available to anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus. 

People with these symptoms – a new continuous cough, loss of or change in sense of taste or smell, or a high temperature – should continue to self-isolate and book a Covid-19 test at or by calling 119. 

Testing for those with symptoms is available to everyone now and anyone who has symptoms should get tested. 

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