What happens when you go to have a Covid-19 test and how does it work?
- Credit: Ricci Fothergill
The Cherry Tree Covid-19 walk-through testing centre in South Hornchurch opened in September. The Recorder has been along to see how it works and what you can expect when you get tested.
As well as the centre in Cherry Tree Lane car park, the council has announced a new permanent testing centre will open in Romford Town Hall to replace the temporary one. The mobile site will continue to operate in another location in the borough. There are also two other testing centres.
The best way to get a test is to book online but when not fully booked the site will accept people without appointments. You must wear a mask at all times around the centre when not doing your test.
The test takes only a couple of minutes, which you self-administer and doesn’t cause any discomfort (it’s no longer nurses who administer or put a metal swab far back in your throat/nose).
You most likely will get the results back (by phone and/or email) in a day, or 48 hours at the latest.
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On arrival, you show your QR code, you’re shown to a booth – all are separated by plastic gazebo walls – and you’re given a pack with a swab and a vial.
You’re asked to blow your nose, then you swab your mouth then nose. You then break the swab in half, put it into the vial, seal the vial, and you put it into a plastic sealed packet. You give that back and you leave the other way out of the one-way system.
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Staff at the centre are sanitising constantly and have to wear PPE in order enter the testing area, the “red zone”. The PPE is discarded as soon as they leave.
At the moment, Cherry Tree is testing about 240 people in a day, says the site manager. At the time of our testing (November 24) the centre was experiencing a medium level of busyness.
The sites are open from 8am until 8pm daily, including weekends. Other sites in Havering are in Rainham Road in Rainham, Dagnam Park Drive, Harold Hill and Havering Town Hall.
Leader of the council, councillor Damian White and a representative from the Department of Health and Social Care have been on site to see how everything is working.
Cllr White said: “I know some people are concerned about being tested. I therefore wanted to see for myself how easy it is to be tested and was pleasantly surprised.
“It isn’t painful and is over quickly. I also know some people are worried about how they will cope if they have to stop working and go into self-isolation. Financial support is available and we’re here to help them through the process, whether it’s how to get their shopping and still isolate or how they can get support with their mental health.”
Tests can be booked by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.