Surge testing for South Africa coronavirus variant gets under way
- Credit: Danielle Booden
Mass testing is under way in south Norfolk as health officials bid to contain the spread the South African coronavirus variant.
Hundreds attended mobile units in Diss and Roydon from Friday morning, the very first time surge testing has been carried out in the county.
Public health teams are keen for everybody aged 16 or over in the area to get tested after the strain was identified in a handful of positive cases earlier this week.
Those displaying symptoms of Covid-19 are being encouraged to visit one of the three testing sites, which are at Diss Youth and Community Centre, Diss Leisure and Roydon Community Centre.
Testing kits can also be picked up and dropped off at Midwich Ltd, in Diss, and from outside the White Hart pub and Roydon Church.
Throughout Friday there was a steady stream of patients at all three mobile sites, with staff taking care to ensure everyone had pre-booked appointments.
Among those to attend Diss Community Centre were Sam and Eileen Turner, who walked from nearby Heywood Avenue.
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The test itself presented "no problems" for the couple, who are both in their 70s but treating the situation as the latest hurdle to overcome.
"It's just another thing for us to get over," said Mrs Turner, 71. "We've had more panic from relatives because they've seen it on the news and phoned to see whether we're okay."
Mr Turner, 76, added: "We've had our first jabs and now we're just looking forward to things getting back to normal, as everybody is."
Those tested in Diss and Roydon so far have been subjected to PCR sampling, which involves swabbing the nostrils and/or throat with a long cotton bud.
Although uncomfortable, they are thought to be the most accurate tests available.
Also booked in on Friday were Keith and Linda Mizon, who were hoping to take another step towards normality.
"It was fine," said Mrs Mizon, 64. "We've had a test before so we did know what was coming.
"The news hasn't bothered us too much. We've been careful and we continue to be.
"With the first lockdown nobody knew what was going to happen and it was all new, but this time it has been more difficult.
Mr Mizon, 65, added: "I've missed going to the football, but I'm an Ipswich supporter so it has actually been a bit of a blessing."
In the adjoining village of Roydon, some queued on foot to wait for a test, while others arrived in their cars.
Dana Sadd, who used to work as a senior nurse, said her experience helped her to recognise the urgency of the testing programme.
"I'm quite calm about the whole situation," said the 34-year-old, who lives in Roydon. "Having worked in the medical profession I wasn't concerned and I know public health is of utmost importance.
"This is all necessary to keep us safe. I have a very vulnerable father-in-law, so if this testing can prevent him from getting Covid, then so be it.
"There have been a lot of questions asking how the variant got here, but there has been a very good stream of information at least.
"Now is the time for us all to be sensible."
Having taken a short trip to Diss Leisure Centre in the afternoon, Stephen and Shirley Clarke admitted they were "surprised" to hear the variant had been identified so close to home.
"It just proves it can happen in little Diss as much as it can in Norwich, Ipswich or any of the other big towns or cities," added Mr Clarke, 67.
"It's just one of those things and at least they're testing for it to see how far it has spread."
Details for the mobile testing units in Diss and Roydon are as follows:
- Diss Youth and Community Centre (Feb 19-25, 9am to 3pm)
- Roydon Village Hall (Feb 19 - March 4, midday to 6pm)
- Diss Leisure Centre (Feb 19 - March 4, 9am to 3pm)
Testing kits can picked up and dropped off at:
- Midwich Ltd, Vince's Road, Diss (Feb 19 - March 4, 9am to 7pm)
- Outside Roydon White Hart and St Remigus Church, Roydon (Feb 19 - March 4, 9am to 7pm)
People who cannot access mobile testing units or pick-up locations can call 01508 533933 to have a kit dropped off at their home.
Arrangements can also be made for people to visit homes if extra help is required.