New walk-through Covid-19 testing site in West Bromwich

Published 6th August 2020

A new walk-through testing site is opening in West Bromwich to help people get a free test as quickly as possible if they notice symptoms of coronavirus (Covid-19).

Testing sites offer a safe, quick and convenient way for people to be tested. They enable health professionals to track people with Covid-19 and trace their close contacts, to help prevent the further spread of infection.

The walk-through testing site in West Bromwich has opened this afternoon (Thursday 6 August) on part of a car park accessed from Temple Street.

The site will help respond to a higher than expected level of Covid-19 infections currently in the West Bromwich area.

All tests must be pre-booked. Please do not turn up without a booked test.

Anyone with coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms, however mild, can get a free swab test that takes less than a minute.

Tests should be booked as soon as symptoms occur either by booking online or by calling 119, and you can expect your result the next day.

The main symptoms of coronavirus (Covid-19) are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell.

Sandwell Council Deputy Leader Councillor Maria Crompton said: “This testing facility is much-needed to support testing and tracing for people in the West Bromwich area.

“People need to book a test as soon as they notice symptoms. Do not delay!

“Rapid testing and tracing is essential to help bring infection rates down quickly and protect others from infection. Booking a test can save lives!”

Elsewhere in Sandwell, a drive-through and walk-through mobile testing unit opened in Oldbury on 25 July, on part of a large car park that has been split into two halves. The test centre can only be accessed from the A457 Dudley Road.

And there is a walk-through coronavirus testing facility at the St Paul’s Road car park in Smethwick, which opened on Friday 31 July.

The new testing site in West Bromwich is in a designated, separate area to reduce any inconvenience to local residents and follows detailed health and safety guidelines. These include social distancing measures and strict cleaning regimes.

People attending tests must not travel by taxi or public transport. They must practise good personal hygiene and wear a face covering throughout (including travelling to and from the testing centre).

Anyone attending an appointment will be provided with guidance on getting to and from the test site safely. Testing is available for everyone, with additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.

People showing symptoms of Covid-19 must self-isolate at home for 10 days and only go out to have a test.

Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, advising them to stay at home for 14 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus. They will be advised to also book at test if they develop symptoms.

The Department of Health and Social Care carries out site surveys and risk assessments of all testing sites prior to them being set up.

Some frequently asked questions and answers

What is the purpose of walk-through testing sites? Who are they targeted for?

This is an additional route to allow people without access to cars to book appointments, and to improve accessibility to testing in the heart of communities who need it most.

Is this safe – why are you asking symptomatic people to walk into busy places?

Anyone attending an appointment at a walk-through testing site will be provided with guidance on getting to and from the test site safely, including: adhering to social distancing; not travelling in a taxi or on public transport; wearing a face covering throughout (including travelling to and from the testing centre); and washing their hands thoroughly before leaving for their appointment. This approach has been agreed with expert clinical oversight.

Can people show up for a test at my local walk-through testing site?

The aim is that everyone in Sandwell with coronavirus symptoms has access to free tests to support continued efforts to reduce the transmission of the virus. To ensure sites have enough capacity to meet demand, people should book an appointment to attend a walk-through testing site. It is vital for safety reasons they arrive at the correct time.

How will people be kept safe on site?

There are detailed clinical operating procedures, developed in collaboration with clinical experts, for local walk-through testing sites. Layouts at walk-through testing sites have been carefully designed to ensure people can move around them safely and prevent spread of the virus; social distancing will be maintained throughout the testing process; and people attending the sites are asked to wear a face covering.

Is it safe for symptomatic people to be walking around outside/doesn’t this contradict government guidance?

Before trialling the sites, clinical experts were consulted including public health professionals. This is a proportionate step given the benefits of increased access to testing, including for some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Those attending Local Testing Sites (LTS) are provided with rules about how to do so in a way that minimises the risk to themselves – including the need to avoid contact with others while on route and to wear a face covering.