THIS is what Bradford's new rapid Covid-19 test centre looks like - in the grand surroundings of St George's Hall.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Picture: Bradford Covid Response Hub

It's a world away from when audiences would pack into the theatre to watch a show and its repurposing in the fight against the pandemic is a stark reminder of the 'new normal'. 

Both St George's Hall and the Airedale Shopping Centre in Keighley are being used for the rapid lateral flow tests, which give results in 30 minutes and are used to help identify people without symptoms who have Covid-19.

Roughly one in three people with the virus have no symptoms and so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly, and so break the chains of transmission.

While it appeared to get off to a slow start this morning, the Bradford Covid Response Hub said more than 300 tests were carried out throughout the day.

The Airedale Shopping Centre site opened ahead of schedule and within an hour of opening, almost 20 people had been tested, the hub said.

Testing is available in St George's Hall from 8.15am until 5.30pm Monday to Saturday and on Sundays from 10.15am to 4pm. At Airedale Shopping Centre, the site is open from 9am until 4.30pm Monday to Saturday and on Sundays 11.15am to 3pm.

There is no need to book an appointment - anyone who lives or works in the Bradford district can just turn up. At Christmas, the testing centres will be closed from December 24 to 28 and on January 1, but some of the PCR testing sites will be open every day, including Christmas Day, for people with symptoms.

Reports in a national newspaper revealed a plan to convert a number of existing testing sites into centres for lateral flow tests had been halted, over concerns about the accuracy of the tests. 

While this does not affect Bradford, the Council has acknowledged the tests are not 100 per cent accurate and can provide a 'false negative'.

Because of this, anyone who receives a positive result will have to isolate immediately and book to get a PCR test to confirm the diagnosis. 

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Executive Member for Healthy People and Places said: “Lateral flow testing could significantly improve the detection of positive cases.  It enables more people who have the virus but are without symptoms, to self-isolate and help prevent the spread of the virus.

“The testing we’re offering at St George’s Hall and the Airedale Shopping Centre is for people who do not have Covid-19 symptoms I would urge people to get themselves tested, to help Bradford district to get back to as normal a life as possible, as soon as possible.

“To improve our chances of detecting positive cases, people who test negative can book themselves a test each week if they wish.

"By getting tested regularly we can save lives, keep our loved ones safe and help to stop the virus spreading. Please do not go to either of the lateral flow testing centres if you do have symptoms – they are only for people with no symptoms. Instead you can book a test online at www.nhs/coronavirus or by calling 119.”