Additional PCR testing facilities are being brought to the city with numbers rising rapidly. The number of daily cases in the city are now as high as those seen at the peak of the pandemic.
People aged between 18 and 30 who live in Oxford are being asked to come forward and get a PCR test to help stop the spread. This is regardless of whether people have symptoms or not. PCR tests are not usually used for people without symptoms, but special measures are being implemented to detect positive cases as quickly as possible.
Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Public Health, said: “The rise in cases in Oxford is concentrated in younger age groups and we strongly urge people aged under 30 to come forward and get tested this weekend.
“We need to work as a community to try to reverse this trend as soon as possible and the extra testing facilities that have been assigned to Oxford are part of ongoing conversations between ourselves and the government about the emerging situation.
“We know that one in three people who have the virus don’t have any symptoms, and so it’s critically important that we identify these cases and stop onward transmission of the virus and protect those who haven’t yet been vaccinated.
“We continue to urge young people to come forward and get the vaccine and we ask people to get back to basics and remember to keep a distance from others, wash their hands regularly, avoid indoor socialising and if you are indoors, make sure the room is ventilated.
“There’s a big football match this weekend so there’s certainly a risk of people gathering and spreading the virus further. Please consider safe ways to enjoy the match – avoid large gatherings and remain with your own household.”
Meanwhile Oxford City Council has arranged for two extra COVID secure team officers to be on duty on Saturday, in response to the rising numbers and the expected extra customers out for the football.
Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Oxford is being given these facilities because cases are rising so rapidly in the city. We are keen that people come forward as and use them as a first step in trying to tackle this local situation that is developing. Please do your bit and get yourself tested as soon as possible.”
Cllr Susan Brown, the leader of Oxford City Council, said: “I am really concerned about the rates in the city, we are fast becoming one of the worst affected areas of the country. I urge younger people – among whom we are seeing case rates are surging - to get tested this weekend. If you test positive please self-isolate to minimise the spread.
“We are only weeks away from the planned date for lifting all restrictions, and to stop the situation in Oxford getting worse very quickly when that happens we need to stop the rise in cases quickly. Please stick to the guidance on social distancing, masks and meeting outdoors. We’ve all been enjoying getting back to meeting up again, but please remember you can limit or increase the virus spread by your actions. Getting tested this weekend is one of the ways you can help limit the spread.
“The biggest case rises are among the young, who don’t have the protection of the vaccine. We’re talking to the two universities and colleges to make sure students are able to get tested before they leave for the summer, and supporting the additional vaccine clinics being set up to target young people.”
What are the testing arrangements?
There are three mobile testing units in Oxford, which are open from 10am to 8pm this weekend. All three are operating on a walk-in basis and no appointment is necessary. They are located at:
Blavatnik School of Government, Walton Street, South Park (St Clements end), Oxpens car park.
The testing centres at Oxford Brookes University and Osney Lane are also open every day from 8am to 8pm, but you’ll need to book an appointment first.
You can book a PCR test on gov.uk. If you are aged 18 - 30 and living in the city you can book a test even if you do not have symptoms by selecting the option “I have been advised to get a test by my local council, health protection team or healthcare professional”.