Suffolk test centres to close as popularity of home testing soars

Suffolk’s rapid testing centres for people without symptoms of COVID-19 will close by the end of the month in line with the continued roll-out and growing popularity of home testing. So far in Suffolk more than 700,000 home kits have been handed out.

The first community centre to close will be Felixstowe, based in Felixstowe Leisure Centre in Undercliff Road West.

It will cease operation at end of business on Friday May 14 as the leisure centre returns to normal use.

The remaining 13 test centres, including in Western Way in Bury St Edmunds, will shut after end of business on Friday May 28.

Stuart Keeble, Director of Public Health for Suffolk, said: “The centres played a valuable role in the outstanding testing capacity we have delivered since January – it was an ambitious roll-out and we achieved this with efficiency and effectiveness.

“We recognised that testing would evolve from static centres to people testing at home and in the workplace.

“The centres enabled people who were not able to work from home during lockdown to test regularly and identify if they had COVID-19, even if they were not showing symptoms.

“We know from feedback from users of the centres that they prefer home testing, so the need for fixed-site testing centres is no longer there now. The most important thing is that people continue to test regularly.”

The centres were funded by central government and run on behalf of the county council by contractors Commisceo.

The first to open was at the University of Suffolk in Ipswich in January and by March there were a total of 28 across Suffolk.

Nearly 90,000 tests have been carried out at these community sites, with 155 positive cases identified.

In March, when community testing was at its highest, more than 10,000 tests were carried out a week.

However, as home testing became more readily available and gathered pace, 14 smaller sites were closed later that month and combined usage of the remainder fell to around 1,900 tests a week.

More than 700,000 home testing kits have been requested. This number does not include kits given out by NHS Test&Trace, Workplace Collect or via schools, care sector and NHS.

Regular lateral flow tests are easy to obtain and are key in helping detect the virus – as many as one in three people who have it do not show any symptoms.

Kits can be obtained from:

Suffolk County Council’s Yes2Test promotes twice weekly testing within businesses and members of the public.

People with symptoms of coronavirus, or who give a positive LFT result, can still access PCR testing via regional and local testing centres, mobile testing units, calling NHS 119 or through Gov.UK.

For further information about testing please visit the Suffolk County Council web page