Published: 12:27, 18 December 2020
| Updated: 12:29, 18 December 2020
Mass testing has been rolled out today in Swale - the borough with the worst Covid-19 rate in the whole of England.
Targeted asymptomatic testing, organised by Kent County Council, began this morning on Sheppey, at Sheerness East Working Men's Club in Queenborough Road, Halfway.
It comes as it emerged part of the Island, Sheppey East, has an infection rate 45% higher than the next highest neighbourhood in England, Haltwhistle and Bardon Mill in Northumberland.
The latest available neighbourhood comparison data, from the week ending December 10, shows a rate of 1,652 per 100,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the area - which covers Eastchurch, Warden, Leysdown and Harty.
However, that is still climbing, with local authority data, from the week until December 12, showing the most recent rate for Sheppey East as 1,825.
Swale this week reclaimed its unfortunate title of being England's number one Covid hotspot - with an infection rate higher than anywhere else in the country (746.3 infections per 100,000 people).
The new mass testing centre on Sheppey was set up yesterday to help bring down the infection rates and key workers and their families are the first to be tested.
This morning, a steady stream of cars made their way into the one-way system car park at the converted social club, which opened at 9am.
Among the first to have their asymptomatic tests was Jackie Swan, a community warden from Minster. She received her invitation via email yesterday.
Jackie, 48, said: "The test was fine. I'd say, from start to finish, it took about 10 minutes, if that, and most of that time was for the paperwork - it was a very well-organised process and I should get my result within the hour."
When asked what she thought of the time it had taken to get the test centre in Swale, Jackie said: "I think, personally, as I know the community, it would have been good to have had it earlier, but I appreciate that there's been a lot of areas that have been high.
"I think it's a shame that some people aren't taking this seriously, but I also know that lots of people are and lots of people are taking as many precautions as they can, like myself. I've had previous tests that have been negative but I still want to make sure I am keeping my residents safe."
Keith Lewis, also from Minster, was also tested this morning because his wife works in a school.
He too said the process was "smooth" and took about 10 minutes.
When asked why he thought the infection rate was so high in Swale, the 68-year-old said he couldn't understand why but that he was "concerned" about it.
He added: "More people are walking around with masks on outside here than in Maidstone or elsewhere, I don't understand it."
Asymptomatic testing is to find people who don’t have symptoms but might be unknowingly spreading the virus.
They will be given a "lateral flow swab test" and can expect a result within 30 minutes. If positive, they must self-isolate for 10 days and take a PCR test to confirm the result.
Those who are negative must still observe social distancing guidelines, wear a mask in public and regularly wash their hands.