Coronavirus testing is being drafted into Northampton in response to concerns over continuing high infection rates – and anyone experiencing even mild symptoms is being urged to book a test to curb the spread of the virus.

Latest government figures published yesterday (21 July) show that the coronavirus infection rate in the borough remains above the national and regional average at 533.9 cases per 100,000 people.

Northampton is more vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreak than other parts of the county because of its higher population density – and its larger proportion of people with multiple long-term health conditions are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill.

Public health officials have arranged for a mobile COVID-19 testing unit to be deployed in the town centre from Thursday 23 July through to Monday 27 July, enabling more local people to get a drive-through or walk-in test closer to where they live.

Tests can be booked online at nhs.uk/coronavirus from 6pm today (Wednesday) or by calling 119. Home testing kits can also be ordered subject to availability.

Lucy Wightman, Northamptonshire’s Director of Public Health, said: “We are concerned that coronavirus cases in Northampton remain higher than we would like them to be, so we have arranged for additional testing capacity to be provided for the town over the coming days.

“Anyone with even the mildest coronavirus symptoms – so that’s a continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change in your sense of smell or taste –must first of all isolate at home straight away with everyone else in their household. This is absolutely essential to help stop the further spread of the virus locally and protect vulnerable people, and though you may otherwise feel well you must not go to work or even visit a shop because this will put others at risk.

“Secondly, you should book a test via the NHS website or by calling 119. If you test positive you should continue to stay at home in line with government guidance – and this will enable the NHS test and trace service to identify and alert other people you may have come into contact with.”

Testing at the Northampton mobile testing unit is by appointment only and address details for the site will be provided to applicants after they have completed their booking.

People testing positive for COVID-19 must stay at home for at least seven days, and any other members of the same household who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the household became ill.

Those who test positive for COVID-19 will also be helped by the NHS test and trace service to identify the people they’ve recently been in contact with so they can be alerted. It’s important to support the test and trace service by providing as much information as possible about recent contacts to help contain any further spread of the virus.

People who have had close recent contact with someone with coronavirus must then self-isolate for 14 days, if they are advised to do so by the NHS test and trace service, to help contain the spread of infection.