The weekend saw Team Bolton at its best, as the community pulled together to hand out thousands of test kits and deliver thousands of vaccines.
Work continues this week as the borough responds to the rising COVID-19 infection rate.
Surge test teams receive warm welcome in the community
More than 100 members of the surge testing team went door-to-door in Deane, Rumworth and Great Lever at the weekend as part of the borough’s surge testing programme.
Surge testing is a process whereby everyone living, working or studying in a specific area, who does not already have symptoms, is asked to take a COVID-19 test.
Many people with COVID do not have symptoms and may be spreading the virus without realising, surge testing helps find these people so they can self-isolate to protect others.
Surge testing also helps us better understand new variants of COVID that may be spreading in the community.
The door-to-door teams visited over 9,000 households and delivered thousands of home PCR test kits, returning later to collect them.
Teams received a warm welcome, with residents offering drinks, refreshments and thanking them for their continued hard work to bring the virus under control.
Statistics show return rates from the Bolton exercise were significantly higher than other parts of the country where surge testing has been rolled out.
Running alongside the visits to residential properties, volunteers from Bolton Council visited local businesses to share information and distribute test kits.
As well as the door-to-door strategy, people living, working or studying in the areas can access a PCR test at one of the mobile testing units:
• Memory Lane Wedding Venue, Gilnow Lane (BL3 5EL)
• Heywood Park, 12 Heywood Gardens (BL3 6RB)
• Makkah Mosque, Grecian Crescent (BL3 6QU)
Home PCR test kits can also be collected and returned at:
• Deane Road Temple (Shree Swaminarayan Mandir), 161 Deane Road (BL3 5AH)
Anyone who tests positive should self-isolate for 10 days and may be eligible for financial support.
Residents with COVID-19 symptoms should book a test as normal via the national online portal.
Bolton’s Director of Public Health, Dr Helen Lowey, said:
“It was great to see so many residents welcoming our surge testing teams and this is testament to the ongoing work to engage with our local communities.
“Surge testing continues in Deane, Rumworth and Great Lever. If you have not already done so, please take a PCR test immediately and self-isolate if you are positive.
“Testing and isolation is essential to helping us bring the virus under control alongside basic measures such as ‘Hands. Face. Space’ and the ongoing vaccination drive.”
Vaccine drive continues thanks to “partnership working like never before”
An enhanced vaccination programme, via the Vaccination Bus at Essa Academy, continues this week.
The scheme has been extended to include people who live, work or study in the neighbouring BL4 area, as well as maximising capacity on site with the help of volunteer vaccinators from the St John Ambulance.
At its height, the bus had 42 vaccinators on site over the weekend and around 6,000 people were vaccinated.
This successes is a direct result of having boots on the ground sharing information about testing and vaccination, a fantastic host in Essa Academy, an intense operational response from Bolton GP Federation and volunteers like the St John Ambulance, and continued support from CCG staff, and partners at Bolton Council and Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, not to mention the generous support from the community itself.
Dr Helen Wall, Senior Responsible Officer for the Vaccination Programme in Bolton, said:
“This action is being taken to protect everyone in Bolton and to help stop the spread of the new variant.
“Over these last few weeks, I have experienced partnership working like never before to get the job done and respond to a situation in the very best interests of our local communities.
“We are doing all that we can to make vaccination as accessible as possible to those people in the affected areas and we continue to vaccinate within JCVI guidance.
“These are areas of high deprivation and we know that some people face barriers to getting their vaccine, such as childcare issues, not wanting to use public transport or not being able to afford to travel, or not having credit on a phone to make an appointment.”
As of May 18, the vaccination criteria is:
• people aged 36 and over
• people at high risk of Covid-19 (including the clinically extremely vulnerable and people who have a long-term health condition)
• health and social care workers