PEOPLE in Rotherham are being urged to get tested for Covid-19 this week whether they have symptoms or not - as the borough is still one of the highest in the country for new infection rates.
Rotherham Council said Public Health England (PHE) and national leaders have granted permission for enhanced testing to be undertaken across South Yorkshire - aimed at accelerating the decline in new cases.
Teresa Roche, the council's director of public health, said the number of people becoming infected with coronavirus in Rotherham and across South Yorkshire was still too high.
She added: "We are changing our testing strategy to include people with no symptoms of Coronavirus. We are working with PHE to increase access to test sites to make it easier for people in Rotherham to get tested."
The borough's latest testing strategy was announced at the newly established Rotherham Local Outbreak Engagement Board on Friday - and further information for how people with no symptoms can get tested is expected this week.
Latest PHE data on new infection rates from swap testing between June 29 and July 5, Rotherham had 21.5 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people - placing the borough as the sixth worst in the country.
Dr Richard Jenkins, chief executive of The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust said: "These additional measures are to try to bring down the rate of infections in the borough as quickly as possible.
"This extra effort will help us to identify more people with the coronavirus, who may not be showing symptoms. More testing will inevitably mean more positive cases, but it gives us a better chance of getting on top of the spread of the virus.”
Speaking after the meeting, chair of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board, and Leader of Rotherham Council, Cllr Chris Read said the council would continue to take a cautious approach to reopening services such as libraries and leisure facilities, and the council’s main customer contact centre at Riverside House, and that services not yet reopened will remain under review.
"We all want to get back to normal as quickly as possible, but we cannot afford to take any chances," added Cllr Read.
"People must continue to keep two metres apart, wash their hands often, self-isolate if they have symptoms and get tested as soon as possible, if we are to prevent even more people from dying of this terrible virus."
Cllr Read said that he himself would be getting tested and urged others to do the same.
As part of ongoing work on outbreak control work in Rotherham, one Rotherham business was reported to have taken the decision to close part of its site for two weeks on Friday, following an outbreak among its 35 workers.
Cllr Read added: “This is a laudable step from a company taking responsibility for the safety of its workforce and a credit to management. It is entirely possible that other workplaces will need to take similar steps over the coming days and weeks and all our agencies stand ready to support firms who might be facing an outbreak.”
If you do have symptoms, book an appointment online and use the drive-thru site, via: www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119.