New COVID-19 testing plan for pupils in Cheshire West and Chester as infection rates rise

22 October 2021

Daily testing is being introduced for secondary school pupils in Cheshire West and Chester when someone in their household tests positive for COVID-19.

This will also be recommended to parents and carers of primary school children following updated advice from government.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Public Health team has made the recommendations to schools in the light of the national guidance and rising COVID-19 infection rates, which are higher in the borough than the national average.

For the seven-day period from 7 to 13 October, the rate in Cheshire West and Chester was 528 per 100,000 compared to the England average of 424 per 100,000. 

The highest rate is currently in the 10-19 age group where there are 1,680 cases per 100,000, compared to the England average of 1,256 per 100,000.

In the light of the rising rates, the Council is also re-enforcing its advice to residents to persevere with measures such as face coverings, social distancing, handwashing, socialising outside, or inside with good ventilation, regular testing and getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

Cllr Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “Our schools have done a superb job so far this term bringing in measures, when necessary, to make sure pupils and students can stay in face-to-face education.

“We are seeing particularly high COVID-19 infection rates in the secondary school and younger age groups so feel it is important to introduce this extra measure of daily testing for household contacts of cases to keep all pupils and staff safe, keep our schools open and keep children learning.

“I also want to appeal to all residents to keep going with hands, face, space and fresh air to help to keep the spread of the virus in check.”

The Council is now making the general recommendation that if one individual in a household tests positive, any children and young people in that household who attend secondary school or college should:
  • take a laboratory-processed PCR test (ideally between three to five days after first exposure), and 
  • take a daily Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test for 10 consecutive days from the date of first exposure
  • continue to attend school provided that their test results (PCR and LFD) are negative
  • self-isolate for 10 full days from the date of the test if any of their test results are positive
  • in the event of a positive LFD test result, obtain a confirmatory PCR test
  • if the confirmatory PCR test is taken within the two days following the positive LFD result and the PCR result is negative, the young person can return to school/college.

Parents and carers of primary aged children are also being encouraged to follow the guidance.

Families are asked to remember COVID-19 advice while socialising over half term and planning Halloween or bonfire parties, including hand washing, wearing face coverings in crowded indoor settings, maintaining a two-metre distance from others and socialising in the fresh air, whether outside, or inside with doors and windows open.

Residents of all ages are advised to test for COVID-19 twice a week using free LFDs if they have no symptoms. This identifies anyone who may spread the virus without knowing they have it.

Anyone with symptoms, including a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss or change of smell or taste, should self-isolate and book a PCR test by calling: 119 or visiting: nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Residents are also urged to have their COVID-19 vaccine or booster as soon as they are eligible.

Ian Ashworth, Director of Public Health at Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “Without any doubt, the vaccine programme has made a huge difference in terms of reducing the chance of people becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 – it is our best defence against the virus. That has been shown through the incredible take up of the vaccine by the residents of west Cheshire.

“Our businesses, education and health and care settings have also seen significant disruption and challenges because of the continued rise in cases and outbreaks, so we can all do our bit to help prevent that.

“Please get your vaccine or booster as soon as you can but don’t forget that testing, hands, face, space and fresh air are all still really important tools, alongside vaccination, to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 and look after each other.”

Free LFD tests for people without symptoms of the virus are available at Stanney Oaks Leisure Centre, in Ellesmere Port, the Dingle Centre, in Winsford, or at the Council’s pop-up testing units, with new locations each week. 

Residents can also pick up free kits to do at home at any of these sites, at participating pharmacies or by ordering online. For more information visit: www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/c19testing

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine visit: www.cheshireccg.nhs.uk

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