Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon, is asking families with school-age children to do all they can to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The call comes as schools and colleges invite all students back this week and as pupils begin to be regularly tested using rapid, lateral flow tests.
“With the significant increase in the number of students becoming routinely tested, we are likely to see an upturn in the number of positive cases,” said Steve Brown.
“Regular testing of people who show no signs of having coronavirus is going to be essential over the coming weeks and months because identifying people who test positive will mean that they can self-isolate and help prevent spreading the virus.
“Any parents who haven’t yet given their consent for their child to be tested at school, I urge them to give their consent.
“Parents are also encouraged to take up the lateral flow tests themselves, and can arrange to collect the home test kits from their nearest national testing centre, or there is home delivery by the NHS for those who can’t collect. Parents are encouraged to take these tests twice a week, and follow the guidance thereafter, depending on the result.
“Alternatively, parents can have their lateral flow, rapid test, at any of our local Community Testing Centres, with results emailed and texted back to them within the hour, allowing them to continue their day while still following the latest rules.”
Devon County Council has set up Community Testing Centres in locations across the county, with fixed sites in Exeter, Barnstaple and Tiverton; and mobile facilities serving Axminster, Exmouth, Honiton, Tavistock, Okehampton and Ivybridge. Tests should be booked in advance and details about how to book are available online at devon.cc/testing.
“If you are instructed to self-isolate, please do so for the full duration,” said Steve Brown.
“The Prime Minister’s roadmap out of restrictions is subject to the latest data. It is not written in stone and shouldn’t therefore be taken as a given. We still need to do everything we can to keep the case rate down and to contain and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“That means following the latest rules, and remembering still to socially distance ourselves from others outside of our households, to wear our face coverings when indoors in public places, and to wash our hands regularly.”