New rapid testing centres have opened in Epping Forest and Harlow for residents who do not have symptoms of Covid-19.

The sites, in Theydon Bois Village Hall, Coppice Row, and The Civic Centre, Water Gardens College Square, offer Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) which provide results in 30 minutes.

Epping Forest District Council leader Cllr Chris Whitbread said: “It’s great news that we have another resource in the district to help us beat the spread of this dreadful virus.

“The tests are quick to do, with results in around 30 minutes. The rate at which this new strain is spreading in our communities is frightening. Whereas in the first wave it seemed that we did not know many family, friends or colleagues who were infected, now there are dozens and some are very poorly indeed.

“We must do all that we can to stop the spread and this includes the simple practices of wearing a mask, washing our hands and staying at least two metres apart.”

Cllr Mark Ingall, Harlow Council leader, said: “The Covid-19 situation in Harlow is extremely serious and our hospital and our NHS staff are currently under enormous pressure. We must all act now to do our bit to stop the spread of this virus so we protect the NHS and save lives. One in three people with this virus do not have symptoms so by taking a test residents will know whether they need to self-isolate or not, which in turn will save lives.

“It is in everybody’s interest to take a test and follow the lockdown rules as this is the only way to bring down infection rates. If cases fall in Harlow we will be in a better position for when the regional tiering system returns after the national lockdown ends.”

Another centre offering ‘takeaway' home-testing kits for people without symptoms has opened at the Lindsey Street Community Association in Frampton Road, Epping.

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are not conducted on site; they must be taken away and returned to the laboratory, with results normally available within 24 – 48 hours.

Dr Mike Gogarty, Essex’s director of public health and wellbeing said: “Infection rates in Epping Forest and Harlow are rising rapidly and local NHS services are coming under significant strain as a result of the new variant of Covid-19. A ‘critical incident’ was declared last week, with critical care and bed capacity rising as well as high staff sickness and self-isolation levels.

“Testing people who feel well will help identify the hidden cases in the community – people who may be unwittingly infecting others.

"If you test positive with one of the new fast tests, you will be asked to self-isolate, and take a further test to confirm the initial result."

Cllr John Spence, Cabinet Member for Adults and Health at Essex County Council said: "We are absolutely determined to do all we can to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in Essex, especially in the areas like Epping Forest and Harlow where we are seeing cases continue to increase considerably as a result of the new variant.

“Targeted testing programmes are one part of how we will continue to tackle the virus, in addition to everyone playing their part in following the latest lockdown rules to limit the spread. An appointment to carry out a Covid-19 test will count as an essential journey under the lockdown rules.”

The LFT tests are available by appointment by calling 0333 772 6144 or visiting:

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