COVID-19 test pilot “thank you”

One of the mass Covid-19 testing centres at the Liverpool Tennis Centre on 8 November 2020. Picture: Jennifer Bruce/Liverpool City Council.

Professor Dame Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor; Professor Louise Kenny, Executive Pro-Vice-Chancellor; Professor Iain Buchan, Chair in Public Health and Clinical Informatics; and Calum Semple OBE, Professor of Child Health and Outbreak Medicine, have all co-signed an open letter to the people of Liverpool to mark the two weeks since the launch of Liverpool’s COVID-19 mass asymptomatic serial testing pilot:

The launch of Liverpool’s COVID-19 mass asymptomatic serial testing pilot on November 6 has generated a huge amount of national and international interest.

Since then until yesterday, 140,000 Liverpool city residents have had a lateral flow test or PCR test. That’s over 1 in 4 of our population.

Over 570 of our citizens tested positive for the virus through the lateral flow test, despite showing no symptoms.

These are 570 people who could otherwise have unknowingly gone on to infect at least another 570 people, and potentially more, and so on.

In the past seven days, 24% of positive cases in the city have been identified via this test.

The city agreed to work with central Government on this pilot programme to achieve these immediate impacts whilst also paving the way for safely releasing people sooner from unnecessary quarantine, which also damages public health and the economy.

This is a pilot. There is no blueprint to follow. The guidebook is being written as we progress. Mistakes will be made. And the learning will be made at a local and national level.

But the risk of doing nothing is not worth contemplating.

Our hospitals’ intensive care beds have been almost full since late September.

NHS staff have been at breaking point.

More than 20,000 people work in our hospitals. Frequent testing allows them to get into work to look after our friends and family.

Our £3bn a year tourism and hospitality economy, employing almost 40,000 people, is crumbling. Covid-19 has put that sector on pause – and raised the spectre of a deeply damaging decade to come.

Saving lives – and saving livelihoods – is the challenge, and a safe, sustainable, speedy release from national lockdown and further relaxation of local restrictions is the goal.

Asymptomatic testing, rapid effective contact tracing, supporting people to self-isolate as needed, and landing the public health messages of hand sanitisation, face covering, and social distancing are our best hopes ahead of sufficient vaccination.

Our message is simple. Get tested. And get tested again.

This is you the people of Liverpool looking after yourself and each other, as one.

Thank you for doing so.

Yours faithfully,

Joe Anderson, OBE, Mayor of Liverpool

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor, Liverpool City Region

Tony Reeves, Chief Executive, Liverpool City Council

Prof Matt Ashton, FFPH, Director of Public Health, Liverpool City Council

Dr Andrew Furber, Regional Director PHE North West & Regional Director of Public Health NHS North West

Prof Louise Kenny, PhD MRCOG, Executive Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool

Prof Iain Buchan, MD FFPH FACMI FFCI, Chair in Public Health and Clinical Informatics, University of Liverpool

Jan Ledward, Chief Officer, NHS Liverpool CCG

Joe Rafferty, CBE, Chief Executive, Mersey Care NHS

Terry Whalley, Covid-19 testing director, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside

Prof Calum Semple, OBE, FRCPCH FRCPE FHEA, Professor of Child Health and Outbreak Medicine, University of Liverpool

Brigadier Joe Fossey, OBE, Commander, 8th Engineer Brigade

Cllr Richard Kemp, Leader of Liberal Democrats, Liverpool City Council

Cllr Steve Radford, Leader of Liberal Party, Liverpool City Council

Andy Cooke, QPM, Chief Constable, Merseyside Police

Serena Kennedy, Assistant Chief Constable, Merseyside Police

Phil Garrigan, Chief Fire Officer, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

Steve Warburton, Chief Executive, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Louise Shepherd, CBE, Chief Executive, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Trust

Dame Janet Beer, DBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool

Prof Ian G Campbell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Liverpool John Moores University

Prof Gerald Pillay, Vice- Chancellor and Rector, Liverpool Hope University

Billy Hogan, Chief Executive, Liverpool Football Club

Prof Denise Barrett-Baxendale, MBE, DL, Chief Executive Officer, Everton Football Club

Richard Kenyon, Chief Executive Officer, Everton in the Community

Paul Cherpeau, Chief Executive, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce

Bill Addy, Chief Executive, Liverpool BID Company

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