Covid testing sites across North Yorkshire, including on Tower Street in Harrogate and Ripon’s coach park, will be closed next week.
As free testing comes to an end from Friday, April 1, the last day for the testing sites to operate will be Wednesday, March 30, North Yorkshire County Council‘s Outbreak Management Advisory Board heard today.
Cllr Michael Harrison, the county council’s executive member for adult services and health integration, asked whether testing would still be made available for care homes and other key groups, such as schools, but was told an announcement on this had not been made yet. There was also no information about any free testing for care and education settings.
Public health consultant Victoria Turner said:
“I think it’s fair to say that is the one we are going to be looking at most closely. We are expecting care guidance coming out next week as well on this.
“From what was said in February we expect there to be some symptomatic testing remaining for care home staff but that’s about as detailed a picture as we get at the moment. Care homes are going to be the one area we still have a particular focus on from April 1.
“We are still seeing quite a lot of outbreaks in care settings, or rather whenever there’s a high degree of community transmission there’s an inevitability that that does affect care settings as well.
“We were hoping that we could have done some of that planning before April 1 but unfortunately the guidance just isn’t out yet.”
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The outbreak management advisory board, which was set up to recommend on the county’s covid response and communications, has also been stood down. It had been meeting monthly but members agreed there was little need to continue as national restrictions were removed.
However, the group said it will remain in abeyance, rather than being disbanded, so it can be brought back into action if required, such as with the emergence of a new variant.
Infection rate almost trebles this month
At present, cases are still rising, though at a slower rate than previously.
The Harrogate district’s infection rate, which was 343 per 100,000 people at the start of the month, is now at 923.
Hospitalisations are also rising at a slower rate, with 30 patients with covid currently being treated at Harrogate District Hospital.
Deaths among people who have tested positive for covid within the last 28 days remain steady, at an average of one each day across North Yorkshire.
Richard Webb, corporate director of health and adult services, said:
“Many of us are continuing to work on the impact of acute and long-term covid in many different ways.”
Meanwhile, covid vaccination centres are preparing to begin giving spring booster jabs to over-75s, and vulnerable children aged between five and 11 in the county are now being given their first doses.