Take Covid tests while they’re free to help keep local case rate under control

Published Friday 18 March 2022 at 8:53

Blackburn with Darwen residents are being reminded of the free Covid testing that’s available to them until 31 March.

Help with testing is available at two community hubs where residents can also pick up free rapid/lateral flow testing kits for home testing:

The Community Hub in The Mall Blackburn will close after Friday 25 March. Until then the site is open for on-site testing and to pick up testing kits Monday to Friday 8am-4pm.

The Works in Railway Road, Darwen will close after Thursday 31 March. Until then this site is also open for on-site testing and to pick up testing kits on Mondays and Thursdays, 9.30am-2pm.

Rapid/lateral flow testing kits can also be ordered online at www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests.

Anyone who has Covid symptoms is still encouraged to stay at home and arrange a PCR test, and there are three sites open in Blackburn with Darwen until 30 March. To check opening times and locations, visit www.blackburn.gov.uk/get-a-test.

Home testing PCR kits can also be ordered online at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.

From 1 April 2022, the government will withdraw the universal free testing offer. Free Covid tests will be made available to people over the age of 75 and over 12s with weakened immune systems, plus social care workers and NHS staff.

Everyone else will have to buy tests from pharmacists or other retailers from 1 April.

Prof Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health for Blackburn with Darwen, said:

The local data tells us that already fewer people are testing, particularly people who don’t have any Covid symptoms.

Despite this, and like other areas of the UK, Blackburn with Darwen is seeing a rise in our reported Covid case rate – an increase of around 50% in the last week.

While we’re still well below the North West and England average case rates, I’m keen to encourage people without symptoms to keep taking regular rapid tests while they are still available for free.

As fewer people are testing regularly, we can be sure that there will be more asymptomatic people with Covid out and about, mixing with others, at a time when many people will have dropped their guard following the government’s easing of infection control measures.

But the risk of Covid to unvaccinated people, particularly those who are clinically vulnerable, is greater now than at any other time in the pandemic, due to legal restrictions having been lifted, particularly the self-isolation rule for anyone who tests positive for Covid.

Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council Coun Mohammed Khan CBE added:

Although the government has ended all legal Covid restrictions, the pandemic is not over and now is not the time to drop our guard against the virus.

As we move towards living with Covid, we all have to do our bit to protect ourselves and others. For now, while it remains free, regular rapid testing can play a huge part in keeping the virus at bay – and I would urge everyone to access free testing until 31 March.

And if you are not yet vaccinated, now is the time to have your Covid jabs to protect yourself against becoming very ill should you catch the virus.

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