Covid-19: Rapid Testing for Parents

Today, Dad and I visited Grassbanks Health Centre, in Gateshead to pick up our Covid-19 self tests in advance of schools re-opening for all on Monday (8th March 2021).

On 31st January 2020, the first two cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the UK. On 23rd March, the UK entered our first national lockdown, including the closure of schools. Restrictions began to lift from 4th July, when people were able to return to restaurants, pubs and cinemas following risk assessments to ensure social distancing. Schools re-opened in September.

Lockdown two came into force 5th November, and lasted until 2nd December, although the Tier system in place meant many including the North East remained in similar conditions for longer. Schools remained open this time.

On 4th January this year, following three family bubbles being able to meet on Christmas Day, the no of infections and deaths reaching an all time high, and news of a faster spreading variant, we entered lockdown three.

On 28th February Boris Johnson shared a roadmap for unlocking England – a four step plan to lead Britain back to normal life – commencing 8th March with the re-opening of schools, and hopefully waving goodbye to most restrictions from 21st June. This is all dependent on the data, and four tests – the pace of the vaccination program (we’re currently at over 20 million vaccinated), the effectiveness of the vaccines, the pressure on the NHS, and the risks of any new variants of Covid).

In the meantime, parents of children returning to schools from next week, are being offered free twice weekly tests (sometimes referred to as rapid lateral flow tests) to help provide reassurance they are virus free, and keep track of people who may be carrying and passing it on without symptoms.

Dad heard about these tests, which are available to collect from 500 locations nationwide, or can be ordered online via a Twitter post – so that’s where we’ve been today.

Pictures to be added here ***

When we arrived at the pickup point, Dad walked up to the temporary tent. It was empty and the staff seemed pleased to have a customer. He was asked if he had Covid symptoms. On replying no, he was directed to apply alcohol gel, and was given two boxes of seven tests. If doing twice weekly as recommended, this will last us 3.5 weeks each.

The tests are similar to the standard tests – e.g. you swab your throat and then your nose with a long cotton bud. The difference is, you can process the result yourself within 30 minutes.

The tests are not mandatory but are encouraged. I can imagine some people will rather not take part, but we are looking forward to using these, and I think it’s a good they are being offered.

In an earlier post, I shared how I’d been selected to take part in a coronavirus antibody test to check whether I’d ever had the virus, and it revealed I had (with no symptoms I was aware of)! Earlier this year, I took a standard coronavirus test as I had headaches and flu symptoms for two weeks – that test was negative.

During lockdown three, our boys have been in school (Boy 1’s Education, Health and Care Plan, and Dad’s role as a key worker) with approximately 25% of those usually at school. We’re not aware of any cases of coronavirus in school during this time.

Have you had coronavirus? What do you think of the self tests? Have you picked up or ordered yours yet?

#Covid-19 #Coronavirus #RapidTesting #LateralFlowTesting

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