Salford testing

Paul Dennett, Labour mayor of Salford, told the Financial Times last Friday that the daily testing target could have been met a lot sooner if the government acted more hastily.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed that just over 85,000 COVID-19 tests were carried out last Sunday, substantially short of the initial 100,000 daily targets set by the government last month.

Although MP Matt Hancock did say last week that on the last day of April over 122,000 tests had been provided, it was later revealed that over a third of this number accumulated to tests that had been posted to homes that had not yet returned results, and tests carried out at drive-thru centres that were also awaiting results.

Salford saw their first COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre established last month, set up at the AJ Bell stadium in Salford to work in conjunction with the hub at Manchester Airport by helping to reduce travel for those that require testing in the region.

And coronavirus cases in Salford have almost doubled since the drive-thru centre was set up just over three weeks ago.

Mr Dennett said: “The government should have entrusted more resources and authority to councils from the start to roll out both testing and contact tracing for COVID-19.

“Complex and ever-changing approaches agreed nationally . . . are no substitute for a properly resourced joint government and local government drive for tackling the virus outbreak”.

It took almost two weeks before the AJ Bell Stadium drive-thru centre was set up to relieve the pressure on the hub at Manchester Airport, with a target set of 120 tests a day.

The centre at Salford Red Devils’ stadium was established to test Salford Royal Foundation Trust staff and health and social care staff, who are within the first five days of displaying symptoms of the virus.

Priority also applies to any front line health workers who are self-isolating because of sick family members, or their relatives who may be showing coronavirus symptoms.

As the hub is drive-through only, Taxis Transfers, whose passenger cabins are closed off from the driver, assist with travel arrangements for those that require it.

Although it is unclear whether the AJ Bell drive-thru hub is meeting its target of 120 daily tests, last Sunday’s national numbers that were almost 15,000 short of the overall target shows that the government is yet to get a firm grip on tackling COVID-19.

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