Mobile coronavirus testing unit returns to Earlestown
A mobile testing unit will return to Earlestown today (Wednesday) as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the area.
The walk-in facility will be stationed at Fairclough Street car park for two days between Wednesday, September 16 and 17, and will be by appointment only.
Only people with these symptoms – continuous cough, high temperature or a loss of or change in their normal sense of smell or taste – should book a test.
The mobile testing unit was due to be stationed at the former Eccleston Park golf course in Rainhill, but has been moved to Earlestown following the rise in cases seen in the area recently.
It comes just days after a mobile testing unit was deployed to Earlestown following a direct request to Health Secretary Matt Hancock from St Helens North MP Conor McGinn.
The infection rate across the borough has risen to concerning levels over the past week, with much of this being driven by a rise in Newton-le-Willows.
Data sent to councillors showed there were 36 cases of Covid-19 in Earlestown between September 5 to 11, equating to an infection rate of 308.9.
Newton also saw 36 cases, equating to an infection rate of 288.7.
Across the borough, there were 152 new cases in total, equating to an infection rate of 84.4, per 100,000 population.
The number of cases in the area are likely to rise further still as the results of Saturday’s testing begin to filter through.
Newton ward councillor Seve Gomez-Aspron wrote on Facebook that the mobile testing unit has been secured again as the number of cases are so high in the area that it need “serious intervention”.
St Helens, and the whole of Merseyside, is already on the Government’s watch list, as an “area of concern”.
This means the Government will closely monitor the infection rate in St Helens and the rest of the county, and could impose interventions and enforce further restrictions should Covid case numbers continue to rise.
Sue Forster, director of public health in St Helens, said: “We know that this situation is a difficult time for people.
“Through testing we can understand more about the scale of this situation and how the virus is behaving, which will help us to bring normal life back again.
“Mobile testing sites help us to prioritise, by adding additional capacity for a short time where it will have the most benefit.”
The site will be slightly altered to relieve some traffic issues experienced in the area with the exit of the site now becoming the entrance.
Coun Gomez-Aspron said the Fairclough Street car park site was selected as it is accessible to those from the most deprived areas who may not have access to a car.
Motorists are advised to use Sankey Street and Tamworth Street car parks as an alternative on the day.
People without a booking will be turned away – without exception. A time slot will be provided upon booking.
Instructions on how to take the test and how and when people they will receive their results will be provided when taking the test.
Alternatively, testing is also available at Haydock Park Racecourse, although the regional test centre has seen capacity issues over the past week.
You can apply for a test online at https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/antigen/name or by calling NHS 119.