COVID-19 tests for people without symptoms of the virus have started for targeted groups of West Cheshire residents.
Cheshire West and Chester Council (CW&C) has opened its first testing centre at Stanney Oaks Leisure Centre, in Ellesmere Port, and is inviting the first people for tests as the pilot gets under way this week.
The priority group for the new rapid and weekly testing, which should provide results within half an hour, will be unpaid carers.
The pilot aims to identify people who have COVID-19 without symptoms and so stop people from spreading the disease unknowingly.
Cllr Louise Gittins, leader of CW&C said: “Our approach is different from that which people might have seen when Liverpool piloted its mass testing programme.
“Areas with Tier 3 restrictions have also been offered more extensive mass testing, with support from the military, but as a Tier 2 area we have developed a more focused approach.
“We have a small amount of tests which we are targeting carefully to help protect people in our community who are most at risk.
“We will widen the pilot out to invite additional groups in the new year.
“This type of testing has an important part to play in the fight against COVID-19 and we are pleased to be chosen as one of 67 pilot boroughs in the country to use testing in this way.”
Testing for people who have symptoms of COVID-19 remains in place for everyone across the borough.
Anyone who develops the symptoms, which include a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change in your sense of taste or smell, should self-isolate immediately and call: 119 or visit: nhs.uk/coronavirus to book a test.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19 everyone is reminded to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser regularly, cover their face in enclosed spaces and maintain social distancing by keeping two metres away from people they do not live with.
Any unpaid carers who would like to join the pilot but who have not been contacted directly by the council can visit Stanney Oaks for a test between 9am and 7pm Monday to Friday and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. No appointment is necessary but there may be a queue.