Officials praise 'fantastic' response to testing roll-out in Diss and Roydon
Officials have praised the “fantastic” response to the testing roll-out in Diss and Roydon last week, which saw eight out of ten people in the area turn up to get tested.
Testing centres and home testing collection points were quickly set up across both locations following the emergence of the South African coronavirus variant in the area last month, with every resident over the age of 16 being urged to get a swab.
By Wednesday February 24, at least 8,000 of the 10,000 people living and working in the parishes of Diss and Roydon had participated in the targeted campaign – far more than expected and at a significantly higher rate than the national average.
More than half of that figure – 5,000 – had already been tested or picked up a home testing kit by the of Friday February 19 – the first day of the roll-out.
As the week progressed, numbers continued to slowly climb; by Tuesday February 23, 6,100 people had participated – with 2,600 people tested at the three mobile testing units, and around 3,500 home testing kit swabs returned.
The following day, as the number passed the 9,000 mark, Diss and Roydon councillor Graham Minshull claimed there was now “more than enough” swabs for health officials to assess the prevalence of the virus in the area.
The massive turnout meant that much of the roll-out, which had been scheduled to run until March 4, is already being scaled back; home testing drop-off points ran out of kits by within two days, and after four days officials announced that mobile testing units would be reducing their opening hours.
Norfolk County Council’s deputy director of Public Health Diane Steiner said: “We couldn’t be more pleased with the way local people have responded to our call to participate in this testing.”
Speaking to Park Radio last month – less than a week after the roll-out began – Diss and Roydon Councillor Graham Minshull thanked residents for taking part.
“I am extremely happy,” he said. “We have had a fantastic response from the good people in Roydon and Diss.
“We are way above 80 per cent [of eligible people tested], with the Department of Health saying they expected about 50 to 60 per cent – and we have more still coming.
“Most areas take the full 10 days, whereas the incredible people of Diss and Roydon did it in half that time.”
Plaudits also came in from Norfolk County Council, with deputy director of public health Diane Steiner thanking residents.
She said: “We couldn’t be more pleased with the way local people have responded to the testing.
“Once again, I want to extend my thanks to everyone who has taken the time to get tested at mobile testing units or by collecting test kits and returning them.
“It’s been a truly great effort and will help us to identify if there is any wider spread of this variant. We will now adjust our arrangements for testing to reflect this.”
While the roll-out has been an overwhelming success, officials were keen to allay any concerns felt by residents – namely those still awaiting their results.
Cllr Minshull said: “Don’t panic, some go to different test centres and it all depends on how busy they are.
“We have had meetings [this week] so I’m hopeful we will start to get those results through, but it will take time.”