Norfolk surge testing sees more than 5,000 swabbed on first day

A mass COVID testing centre at Diss Leisure Centre. Picture: Danielle Booden

A mass COVID testing centre at Diss Leisure Centre. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

More than 5,000 people in a Norfolk town have been tested for the South African variant of coronavirus in a bid to stem the spread.

A mass COVID testing centre in the carpark next to Diss Youth & Community Centre. Picture: Danielle

A mass COVID testing centre in the carpark next to Diss Youth & Community Centre. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

People living and working in Diss, Roydon, and surrounding villages are being asked to get tested for coronavirus after a new variant was identified in the area.

The South African variant, which could not be traced back to international travel, has triggered a 14-day surge testing programme which started on Friday, February 19.

A mass COVID testing centre at Diss Leisure Centre. Picture: Danielle Booden

A surge COVID testing centre at Diss Leisure Centre - Credit: Danielle Booden

Around 4,000 people collected swabs to use at home on Friday, with an extra 1,000 attending the three mobile testing units located at the Diss Youth and Community Centre, Roydon Community Centre and Diss Leisure Centre.

Norfolk County Council’s deputy director of public health Diane Steiner, said: “The response has been absolutely fantastic. I would like to thank all those people who have participated so far.

Coronavirus surge testing has begun in Diss and Roydon

Coronavirus surge testing has begun in Diss and Roydon - Credit: Danielle Booden

“This is a great start to our testing programme and goes a long way towards enabling us to identify if there is any wider spread of this variant.

“We still have more than 10 days of testing left so I would encourage people to continue to keep up the great work.

Stephen and Shirley Clarke, from Diss, at the mass COVID test centre at Diss Leisure Centre. Picture

Stephen and Shirley Clarke, from Diss, at the mass COVID test centre at Diss Leisure Centre. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

"We have good capacity at our mobile testing sites, which are open seven days a week, so please do book a test at a convenient time for you.”

Anyone who has picked up a home test on Friday is reminded to ensure they return it to the drop off points within 24 hours of using it.

Linda and Keith Mizon, from Diss, at the mass COVID test centre next door to Diss Youth & Community

Linda and Keith Mizon, from Diss, at the mass COVID test centre next door to Diss Youth & Community Centre - Credit: Danielle Booden

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Tests can be dropped off at Midwich Ltd in Vince’s Road Diss, IP22 4YT or outside Roydon White Hart/Roydon Church any time between 9am and 7pm, Monday to Sunday, with no appointment needed. Please don’t use the post boxes at these sites.

Tests can be booked for anyone over the age of 16 who lives or works in the parishes of Diss and Roydon. Bookings can be made from 8pm each day by ringing 119 or visiting www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test with appointments available at three mobile testing site.

Anyone unable to attend a mobile testing unit or experiencing difficulties with booking a test should contact the South Norfolk help hub on 01508 533933.

Test Centre opening times:

  • Diss youth and community centre, (February 19 - February 25, 9am – 3pm)
  • Roydon Community Centre (February 19 - March 4, 12 noon – 6pm)
  • Diss leisure Centre (February 19 - March 4, 9am – 3pm)
Surge testing takes place at Diss Leisure Centre

Surge testing takes place at Diss Leisure Centre - Credit: Danielle Booden

Those who don’t have Covid symptoms should click ‘yes’ when asked ‘is the person who needs a test part of a trial or government project?’ and then select ‘taking part in community testing’.

Those who do have Covid symptoms follow the instructions on the website and choose one of the mobile testing units listed above and drive to the testing centre if they can.

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