COVID-19 Testing Site FAQs
What COVID-19 testing facilities are currently in the borough for people who have symptoms of the virus?
There are currently three COVID-19 test sites in the borough for people with symptoms:
- A Walk-through Testing Unit (MTU) on Milner Road, at the rear of Surrey County Hall. This has been located in an area of high need due to its proximity to the University and College, to enable easy access to testing, particularly for those without access to a vehicle.
- A Walk-through Testing Unit at Cocks Crescent in New Malden.
- A Mobile Testing Unit (MTU) (drive through only) which visits the Cattle Market car park in Kingston twice a week.
When you book a test through the national portal at nhs.uk/coronavirus a dropdown menu will appear listing all the test sites in the local area with available appointments.
Residents who cannot walk or drive to a sit,e or who would prefer not to travel, can access a ‘Home Testing Kit’.
Why do we need these testing sites?
Testing people who have coronavirus symptoms is a crucial part of how we stop the spread of the virus and protect our community.
Finding positive cases (and their ‘contacts’ who may have been infected) and asking them to self isolate is key to breaking the chains of transmission, so we can keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and try to avoid the need for greater restrictions on daily life.
Coronavirus infection rates are rising across the country. Although Kingston’s rates are not as high as the worst affected areas country, we are seeing a sustained increase in infection rates across our borough and it is vital anyone with any symptoms - a cough, a high temperature or a loss or change in their sense of taste or smell - self isolates and books a free test straight away.
Who runs the testing sites across the borough?
All the COVID-19 testing sites across the borough are part of the Government’s national testing programme, run by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). DHSC has commissioned a number of different companies to run its walk-through sites. The site at Milner Road is run by Deloitte and Levy & Co. Mobile Testing Units are run by Serco.
How do people book a COVID-19 test at one of these testing sites?
To book a test at any of the testing sites across the borough, visit the national NHS booking at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119.
How do walk- through testing sites like the one at Milner Road and Cocks Crescent work?
On arrival, those attending walk-through testing sites will be asked to confirm their identity and show the text confirmation number or QR code from their email booking confirmation.
Test subjects will then be issued with a test kit and directed to a testing booth, where they will be provided with guidance to help them self-administer a swab test, taking swabs from both the nose and mouth. After safely completing the test, a testing assistant will advise how to register their test online and exit the site. They will receive their results the next day.
Are walk-through testing sites safe?
A full site assessment has been carried out to ensure the new facility adheres to rigorous health and safety standards. DHSC has detailed clinical operating procedures, developed in collaboration with clinical experts, for local walk-through testing sites.
Layouts at the sites have been carefully designed to ensure people can move around them safely and prevent spread of the virus. Social distancing is maintained throughout the testing process and people attending the sites are required to wear a face covering.
The site will operate on an appointment-only basis. Its operating procedures have been signed off by Public Health England and put health and safety at the forefront. A number of measures are in place, including:
- Social distancing measures. Those being tested will be required to follow public health measures, including social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, practising good personal hygiene and wearing a face covering throughout (including travelling to and from the testing centre). After booking their tests, test subjects receive the full address and directions to their local testing site, and text confirmation or QR code for test allocation.
- Personal Protective Equipment on site. Staff who are required to interact with test subjects wear PPE. The on-site operational staff do not wear PPE as this is not required. These staff do not come into direct contact with any test subjects.
- Cleaning regime. There is a strict cleaning regime for the whole site which means that facilities are cleaned multiple times a day to ensure very high standards of hygiene. Waste is removed on a regular basis.
- Designated areas. The testing areas are segregated from all other areas. All efforts have been made to reduce the disturbances to local communities and only operational staff will be in the designated area of the testing site
Why can people not drive to the walk-through testing sites at Milner Rd and Cocks Crescent?
As Milner Rd is a walk-through site, there is no onsite parking. DHSC launched walk-through testing sites to allow people without access to cars to book test appointments, and to improve accessibility of testing in the heart of communities who need it most.
When people book a test at the site, they are instructed not to travel by public transport. People may opt to drive and park at the nearby Bittoms Car Park, but for many people, traveling there by foot or bike will be the easiest option. This is why it is sited in a place where the many people in Kingston without a car will be able to access.
For those who have to travel by car, the postcode for the Bittoms car park is KT1 2AB. There is very limited parking in the area surrounding the walk-through test site.
For those who wish to use a car, the drive through sites in Chessington and Twickenham remain open, and a Mobile Testing Unit visits the Cattle Market car park in Kingston on Tuesday and Fridays weekly.
Do walk-through testing sites increase the risk of transmission in the surrounding area?
There is no evidence from the walk-through test sites set up around the country of any increased risk of COVID-19 transmission to the local community. Before trialling the sites, DHSC consulted with clinical experts, including public health professionals.
Their view is that this is a proportionate step given the benefits of increased access to testing, including for some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Those attending walk-through sites are provided with rules about how to do so in a way that minimises the risk to themselves – including the need to avoid contact with others while on route and to wear a face covering.
Residents across the borough should also follow government guidance when out in public, wear a face covering, avoid close contact, wash hands frequently.
When are residents informed about the opening of walk-through testing sites?
Due to the Government's aim to increase testing capacity in London very quickly, the identification and sign off for the location of local walk-through test sites often happens in a matter of days.
For the site at Milner Rd, final agreement between Surrey County Council and the Department for Health and Social Care was only reached the day before building of the site at Milner Rd commenced.
There was very little time for Kingston Council to inform local residents. We have tried to update people living in the surrounding area as soon as we have had information and are committed to continuing to work with residents and the site management to address any issues that arise.
Does Kingston Council support the opening of the walk-through testing sites?
Yes. Kingston Council supports the opening of walk-through test sites because this makes rapid testing available to residents without cars.
Before trialling any testing sites, DHSC consult with clinical experts including public health professionals. Our view is that setting up the testing site at Milner Rd is a proportionate step in the effort to keep Kingston safe.
It is still vital that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms gets tested. By increasing the testing capacity within our borough through the new site, we want to make it easier for all residents who have symptoms to access a test quickly.
Are there any test sites for people who do not have symptoms?
There are a number of rapid-results community testing sites in the borough for essential workers who do not have any symptoms of COVID-19. Frontline workers from across the borough who have to leave home to do their work have received letters inviting them to access regular asymptomatic testing at these sites.