Bedfordians will have access to surge vaccinations, alongside surge COVID-19 (coronavirus) testing, as figures show the Borough has third highest virus rate in the country.
Currently Bedford Borough has 128 cases per 100,000 people in the population. By comparison, Bolton has 283 per 100,000.
Four wards have been singled out as high-priority areas for surge testing, these are:
- Queens Park
Residents in these areas are strongly encouraged to take a PCR COVID-19 test this week, even if they are not showing symptoms.
The areas were chosen based on close analysis of the spread of COVID-19 in recent days.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said there was evidence, the Indian variant (B.1.617.2) passes on more easily from person to person than the one first discovered in Kent.
He added it was now “even more important that people get vaccinated”.
However, he added that ministers were “determined to do all that we can to ensure this new variant doesn’t put our recovery at risk”.
As well as Bedford, surge testing and vaccinations will now be introduced in:
- North Tyneside
Mohammad Yasin, Labour MP for Bedford and Kempston has welcomed the news but criticised the time it has taken for the government to make a decision.
“This is something that the local public health team and myself have called for and I am pleased that the Government have listened,” he said.
He also called on Matt Hancock MP to recognise the need for vaccinations in younger people.
“…it is disappointing that the Government haven’t extended the surge vaccination program to all those aged 16 and over yet…
“…this fails to address the recent high transmission rates amongst younger age groups, and I will continue to urge the Government to extend the vaccination criteria.”
Bedford Borough Council says that testing and self-isolating will, together with measures such as hands-face-space-fresh air, help control the spread of the virus.
They add that it will also help better understand the new Indian variant.
Surge testing sites
Mobile Testing Units will be operating from 20 May until 28 May every day at the following sites and times:
- Oasis Beach Pool, Cardington Road, Kingsbrook, Bedford, MK42 0BZ (8am to 6pm)
- John Bunyan Sports and Fitness, Mile Road, Cauldwell, Bedford, MK42 9TS (8am to 6pm)
- Enterprise House, Old Ford End Road, Queens Park, Bedford, MK40 4PF (8am to 5pm)
- Seasons Garden Centre, Bedford Road, Wixams, MK45 3HU (8.30am to 6pm)
You can attend the sites by car or on foot and no appointment is necessary.
Further collect and drop off points for tests will also be available from 8 am to 6 pm at:
- London Road Surgery
- Cauldwell Community Centre on Althorpe Street
- Queens Park Community Centre
- Lakeview Village Hall at Wixams and these will be open from 8am-6pm.
Both Mobile Testing Units and the collect/drop off sites will be operating throughout the weekend.
“The figures we are seeing locally are really concerning, with cases thought to be doubling approximately every five days in Bedford Borough,” said Mayor Dave Hodgson.
“…if you live in Kingsbrook, Cauldwell, Queens Park or the Wixams, come forward for a PCR test and help to keep your community safe.”
Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor for NHS Test and Trace added: “PHE and NHS Test and Trace are monitoring the situation closely and appropriate public health measures such as increased testing and contact tracing are being put in place where necessary.”
Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.