Terry Whalley, testing director for Cheshire and Merseyside, explains why the city’s mass-testing pilot is so important.
We are now into another period of national lockdown. I know that for the people of Merseyside, that might not seem hugely different to what we have all been enduring in Tier 3 for the last few weeks.
But, as businesses once again shut their doors, as our relatives and friends again get used to not visiting, or not being visited by their loved ones – we have begun something which could really change the lives of people in Liverpool, the wider region and indeed the country – for the better.
Having our request of government answered, for lots more testing resources in Liverpool, we have even more than we might have initially hoped for.
The opportunity to be the first city in the country to introduce repeat, rapid mass testing for everyone who lives and works in the city, whether they have symptoms or not, could be a real game-changer.
Testing on this scale, and at this speed, could mean that we open ourselves up as a city, a community and a country in the near future to a very different way of living with, and fighting against Covid-19.
If we can demonstrate that mass testing at the scale we are attempting can stamp down the spread of the virus, that will be a huge success. If we, in Liverpool, can prove that it is possible to test, and re-test people quickly and frequently, this could have a real, positive, impact on our way of life.
There are no guarantees at the moment, this is a pilot we in Liverpool are doing for the country and there is a lot to think about. But, if successful, this level of testing repeated across the country could see us offer people hope that we can go about our lives normally even while the virus remains.
This could mean, in the future, that we can once again do the things we cherish; be beside a partner for the birth of a child, visit our loved ones in hospital or care homes – and yes go round to our gran’s for a Sunday roast or watch the kids play football. We might even be able to go and watch Liverpool or Everton ‘live’ again.
The ability to test people regularly and quickly could do even more than that, it could bring us out of the lockdown in a much stronger position, reducing the need for local tiered restriction measures in the future. This will mean we can open up our shops, restaurants and pubs sooner and get our lives and livelihoods back on track.
But for this to happen, we need the people of Liverpool to get involved, get a test and prove we can make this work.
I am so proud to be the Covid-19 Testing Director for Cheshire and Merseyside and have the opportunity to be involved in something so important. I am so grateful to so many people who have worked unbelievably hard the last few days to make this happen. And I am confident people who work and live in Liverpool will grab the chance to be part of this fightback against Covid-19.