Buses converted into Covid testing units ahead of expected third wave

The team of testing operatives with the new Covid-19 mobile testing bus for observed lateral flow te

The team of testing operatives with the new Covid-19 mobile testing bus for observed lateral flow testing, from left, Martha Ash, Mollie Maddox, Sam Carpenter, and Sam Bailey. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Four buses have been converted into testing units in a bid to further reduce the number of coronavirus cases in Norfolk

Health officials believe the move will help to test those who are asymptomatic and bring the rate of infection down further in the county. 

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk, said the coronavirus case numbers are coming down but they are plateauing and are not yet down to zero. 

She said there are roughly 20 cases a day per 100,000 people in the county, or 300 a week so officials are keen to "keep on top of the situation".

The buses will be transported every week dependent on where cases are higher, as well as remote areas of the county.

Sam Carpenter watches as Stuart Bedford carries out the lateral flow test on the new Covid-19 mobile

Sam Carpenter watches as Stuart Bedford carries out the lateral flow test on the new Covid-19 mobile testing bus. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021


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Each bus has the capacity to undertake up to 100 observed rapid tests a day.

Dr Smith said around one in three people do not have symptoms, so the mobile buses will help to prevent people passing the virus on to family, friends and colleagues.

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She said: "We are asking everyone in Norfolk to have regular tests. Some are returning to the workplace or have kids at school. As lockdown eases people are out to do things they have not done before.

The team of testing operatives on the new Covid-19 mobile testing bus for observed lateral flow test

The team of testing operatives on the new Covid-19 mobile testing bus for observed lateral flow testing, from left, Martha Ash, Sam Carpenter, Sam Bailey and Mollie Maddox. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"All the evidence and science shows there is a real risk we will see a third wave. The numbers will go back up but we hope those numbers will be milder because of the vaccination, but it will not be 100pc." 

The observed tests mean people will swab themselves under the guidance of a trained operator who then processes the test and records it.

Dr Smith said observed tests generally have 75-78pc efficacy compared to 50-55pc for self-tests. 

Peter Lomas of the public health community testing team, added: "For some people observed tests give a better sense of security and are more likely to be accurate."

The new Norfolk Count Council Covid-19 mobile testing bus for observed lateral flow testing. Picture

The new Norfolk Count Council Covid-19 mobile testing bus for observed lateral flow testing. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The buses have been converted by Project MOVE, a scheme created to help provide mobile clinical services in more locations, and will be operated by Konectbus.

Mobile Testing Units will be in place at the Eaton Centre Waitrose, Longwater Next and the Tesco stores in Watton and Sprowston between May 10-15. 

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