A PACKAGE of enhanced support – including surge testing and increased vaccinations – is coming to Lancashire as cases of Covid-19 continue to rise.
The county is getting enhanced support from central government to ramp up testing and offering the vaccine in more convenient locations in coronavirus hotspots.
From today, everyone over 25 is eligible to receive their first Covid jab.
Cases are rising rapidly in parts of Lancashire – driven by the Delta variant – mainly in the East but spreading in Central Lancashire and other parts of the county.
Everyone in Lancashire, including children, are now being strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, whether they are showing symptoms or not.
By using PCR testing, positive results can be sent for genomic sequencing at specialist laboratories, helping us to identify variant of concern (VOC) cases and their spread.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council, said:
"Cases of Covid-19 are continuing to rise at a worrying pace in parts of Lancashire.
"While the East of the county has seen the highest volume of infection, we are seeing cases rise rapidly in other parts, including Central Lancashire.
"Over the past three weeks, additional surge testing and vaccinations has been undertaken in Burnley, and we have been pushing for this to be rolled out across the county.
"The Government has listened to our calls and has now agreed to provide Lancashire with enhanced support, which gives us more flexibility to fight this new wave of infections.
"As such, asymptomatic PCR testing will be opened up to everyone in Lancashire.
"Improving vaccination uptake is also going to be a crucial element in our efforts to contain this latest wave.
"As well as securing first doses for those who have not had one, it is also vital that we get people fully vaccinated with two doses, as this will offer maximum protection against the Delta variant.
"Anyone who is over 18, subject to eligibility, can book their jab now over the coming weeks we will be offering the vaccine in more convenient locations.
"Some of these will be walk-in and people will be encouraged to pop along and discuss their eligibility if they are unsure.
"Make sure you keep an eye on your district council's websites and social media accounts for more information.
"You can also book on the national booking system online or via 119 if you are eligible.
"It is important that people continue to follow the guidance on hands, face, space and fresh air.
"If we do this, along with testing and vaccinations, then we can start to turn things around and avoid any local restrictions being put in place."
Denise Park, chair of the Lancashire Resilience Forum's Recovery Coordination Group, said: "We are seeing worrying increases in the virus in parts of Lancashire and we have all got a part to play to control the spread.
"The most important thing you can do is to get your jab if you are eligible for the vaccine and haven't had it yet.
"If you have had your first dose but are awaiting your second, please contact your GP or ring 119 to see if this can be brought forward.
"Regular testing is another way that we can all work together to control the spread of the virus.
"We are getting enhanced support from government to ramp up testing and offering the vaccine in more convenient locations in coronavirus hotspots.
"Please take advantage of this extra support so we can turn the tide against this latest wave of infections.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel, but one thing Covid has taught us is that we can never count it out – and we must all work together as we have done throughout the pandemic to keep our communities safe."
Anyone can book a free test online or by calling 119.
If they do not have symptoms, they should select the option that says they have been asked to carry out a test by their local authority.
Residents can also pick up a free PCR kit from a designated collection point or have a kit sent to their home.
People should continue to make use of free twice-weekly rapid tests, commonly known as lateral flow devices, alongside the PCR test as part of surge testing.
People are also being asked to be cautious and think about minimising travel where possible.
For vaccinations, if you are over 18 and meet the eligibility criteria, you do not need to wait to be contacted.
You may be able to book your Covid-19 vaccination appointments online now.
If you did not book when you were contacted, you're still eligible and can book your appointments anytime.