AN ARTICLE FROM BIRMINGHAM MAIL
As the coronavirus vaccine continues to be rolled out and more test centres are opened in Wolverhampton, a city councillor has shared her experiences of volunteering on the frontline.
Councillor Beverley Momenabadi (Lab. Ettingshall) has spent a number of days over the last few weeks working at the rapid testing facility in the Civic Centre, and is doing shifts at The Hub in Ashmore Park, Wednesfield, from this week.
Trained volunteers have been working daily to sample and test members of the public who do not have any symptoms of coronavirus at five designated centres across the city.
Cllr Momenabadi said: “To me, this is what being a councillor is about – supporting Wulfrunians during this crisis.
“Since the start of the pandemic I’ve run a number of initiatives, including a free school meals project from my kitchen and a project to get kids without internet online so they can access their lessons at home.
“When I saw the rapid test centre open in Wolverhampton last year, I knew I wanted to help. I enjoy my shifts at the centre where we’re able to give people who are asymptomatic the opportunity to be tested for the virus.
“I had my training last year with Cllr John Reynolds (Lab. Graiseley) and I will continue to do shifts over the coming months to help break the chain of transmission at an early stage and reduce the spread of the virus,” she added.
Cllr Momenabadi recently won the national Young Councillor of the Year Award for 2020, where her efforts were especially recognised for assisting the community during the pandemic.
For those who have not yet been tested, here is Cllr Momenabadi’s insight into what goes on inside a test centre:
Q: How are the tests done?
“The tests take the form of a self-swab. So one of the workers talks the person through how to carry out the swab and stays with them whilst they are doing it to ensure it is carried out properly and also to answer any questions they may have.
“Every visitor is directed to enter a booth, where they carry out the test themselves with a worker beside them. Full details of how the self-swabs are done can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-taking-swab-samples/how-to-use-the-self-swabbing-kit-for-a-combined-throat-and-nose-swab-video
“Once they are done, the sample is then placed in a test tube which a volunteer such as myself – working from behind a perpex screen – takes from them through a gap in the screen.
“We then take the swab and test this on what is called a lateral flow test. The results are available 30 minutes later and people who have been tested are contacted via text and email to let them know the result.
“They will earlier have been given leaflets on what to do if their test comes back positive or inconclusive. Every booth is sanitised between every single test (on both the worker’s side and the visitor’s side) All the PPE equipment used is also changed between every single test.”
Q: Who are the people carrying out the tests?
“There are a range of different people with a wide variety of skills volunteering at the test centres.
“I have met everyone from ex-police officers to elected councillors like myself. We have all undergone the NHS training needed to qualify us to do this important role correctly.”
Q: How many tests are being done per day and how many on average are coming back as positive?
“On Monday last week there were 502 people tested at the Civic Centre, with 21 coming back as positive. On Tuesday it was 404 people, with the same number positive.
“This is pretty representative of average numbers each day. At all our sites, as of Tuesday, over 31,000 rapid tests had been completed with around 4.5 per cent of tests coming back as positive.”
Q: What else should people know?
“At all of our testing centres, it is one way in and one way out for people who want to get tested, and a separate one way in and one way out for workers or volunteers like me.
“People who want to get tested can fill out the form online whilst they are waiting via their mobile phones, or if they prefer to have someone register them, they can do this at our reception desk.
“The option to do either is always available and there is a diverse range of staff working at every centre, so often there are various multi-lingual staff on hand to support residents who might not have English as a first language so they fully understand the process.”
Q: If I don’t have symptoms, where can I be tested?
“Rapid testing is also available at the Civic Centre (Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm and Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 6pm; the Jamia Masjid Bilal on Newhampton Road West (10am to 6.30pm daily); Pendeford Library (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 6pm); St Joseph’s Church, Willenhall Road (Monday to Friday, 2pm to 6pm) and The Hub, Ashmore Park (10am to 6pm daily except Wednesday and Sunday). No appointments are necessary.”
Members of the public can find furter information on testing and the centres available at: https://www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-and-information/stay-safe-be-kind/coronavirus-testing#