Covid-19 test pilot “thank you”

Open letter to the people of Liverpool two weeks since launch of UK pilot

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND. One of the mass Covid-19 testing centres at the Liverpool Tennis Centre on 8 November 2020. Picture: Jennifer Bruce/Liverpool City Council.

At 12 noon on Friday, 6 November the UK’s first Covid-19 testing trial began in Liverpool.

Two weeks to that very hour – civic leaders, leading scientists, NHS bosses and key figures from sport and business have united to say a joint thank you to all who have participated in this ground-breaking pilot.

In the letter below, they explain to the city’s residents why Liverpool decided to take on this unique challenge and the potential benefits it could bring, allowing life to get back to normal that little bit quicker.  

Dear resident,

The launch of Liverpool’s Covid-19 mass asymptomatic serial testing pilot on November 6 has generated a huge amount of national and international interest.

Since then until yesterday, 140,000 Liverpool city residents have had a lateral flow test or PCR test. That’s over 1 in 4 of our population.

Over 570 of our citizens tested positive for the virus through the lateral flow test, despite showing no symptoms.

These are 570 people who could otherwise have unknowingly gone on to infect at least another 570 people, and potentially more, and so on.

In the past seven days, 24% of positive cases in the city have been identified via this test.

The city agreed to work with central Government on this pilot programme to achieve these immediate impacts whilst also paving the way for safely releasing people sooner from unnecessary quarantine, which also damages public health and the economy.

This is a pilot. There is no blueprint to follow. The guidebook is being written as we progress. Mistakes will be made. And the learning will be made at a local and national level.

But the risk of doing nothing is not worth contemplating.

Our hospitals’ intensive care beds have been almost full since late September.

NHS staff have been at breaking point.

More than 20,000 people work in our hospitals. Frequent testing allows them to get into work to look after our friends and family.

Our £3bn a year tourism and hospitality economy, employing almost 40,000 people, is crumbling. Covid-19 has put that sector on pause – and raised the spectre of a deeply damaging decade to come.

Saving lives – and saving livelihoods – is the challenge, and a safe, sustainable, speedy release from national lockdown and further relaxation of local restrictions is the goal.

Asymptomatic testing, rapid effective contact tracing, supporting people to self-isolate as needed, and landing the public health messages of hand sanitisation, face covering, and social distancing are our best hopes ahead of sufficient vaccination.

Our message is simple. Get tested. And get tested again.

This is you the people of Liverpool looking after yourself and each other, as one.

Thank you for doing so.

Yours faithfully,

Joe Anderson, OBE, Mayor of Liverpool
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor, Liverpool City Region
Tony Reeves, Chief Executive, Liverpool City Council
Prof Matt Ashton, FFPH, Director of Public Health, Liverpool City Council
Dr Andrew Furber, Regional Director PHE North West & Regional Director of Public Health NHS North West
Prof Louise Kenny, PhD MRCOG, Executive Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool
Prof Iain Buchan, MD FFPH FACMI FFCI, Chair in Public Health and Clinical Informatics, University of Liverpool
Jan Ledward, Chief Officer, NHS Liverpool CCG
Joe Rafferty, CBE, Chief Executive, Mersey Care NHS
Terry Whalley, Covid-19 testing director, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside
Prof Calum Semple, OBE, FRCPCH FRCPE FHEA, Professor of Child Health and Outbreak Medicine, University of Liverpool
Brigadier Joe Fossey, OBE, Commander, 8th Engineer Brigade
Cllr Richard Kemp, Leader of Liberal Democrats, Liverpool City Council
Cllr Steve Radford, Leader of Liberal Party, Liverpool City Council
Andy Cooke, QPM, Chief Constable, Merseyside Police
Serena Kennedy, Assistant Chief Constable, Merseyside Police
Phil Garrigan, Chief Fire Officer, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service
Steve Warburton, Chief Executive, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Louise Shepherd, CBE, Chief Executive, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Trust
Dame Janet Beer, DBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool
Prof Ian G Campbell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Liverpool John Moores University
Prof Gerald Pillay, Vice- Chancellor and Rector, Liverpool Hope University
Billy Hogan, Chief Executive, Liverpool Football Club
Prof Denise Barrett-Baxendale, MBE, DL, Chief Executive Officer, Everton Football Club
Richard Kenyon, Chief Executive Officer, Everton in the Community
Paul Cherpeau, Chief Executive, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce
Bill Addy, Chief Executive, Liverpool BID Company