Troops will be on the streets of Kirklees in the coming weeks as mass Covid testing is rolled out.
And the borough’s four MPs and political leaders are hopeful that already falling infection rates will tumble still further as a result on community testing.
MPs Barry Sheerman, Jason McCartney, Tracy Brabin and Mark Eastwood joined leaders of the five main political groups to respond to Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s announcement that community testing is imminent.
The MPs along with Shabir Pandor (Labour), David Hall (Conservative), John Lawson (Lib Dems), Andrew Cooper (Greens) and Charles Greaves (Holme Valley Independents) together make up the Outbreak Control Board (OCB).
They described Mr Hancock’s announcement as “great news” and said Kirklees Council’s was the first local authority in the Yorkshire and Humber region to put itself forward to make rapid testing available to everyone, even if they didn’t have symptoms.
In a joint statement they said: “This announcement means [the government] will support us to build a network and will provide military personnel to help us get the system up and running.”
The council now intends to start building sites in areas where infection rates have been the highest and to expand the network to that the “quick and convenient” tests are available for everyone in the district.
They added: “Community testing will give every resident of Kirklees an extra chance to play their part in keeping their friends, family and community safe.
“After several weeks when we’ve seen infections falling across Kirklees, we need to build on that positive progress. Community testing for all residents of Kirklees gives us the chance to build on the enormous efforts people have been making.”
Community testing is designed to pick up the coronavirus in people who don’t have symptoms but who could still pass on the infection to others.
If it can identify more asymptomatic cases, the council believes it can reduce infection rates further.
After a 64% fall in new cases of Covid-19 over the past three weeks, the council is looking to build on what it calls “the positive progress” local people have made in reducing the spread of the virus.
By increasing testing capacity and identifying people who have the virus but do not have symptoms, the council hopes community testing can help slow the spread of the infection and save lives.
Lateral Flow Tests, used for community testing, are quick to administer and results are usually available within half an hour.
The OCB reiterated the need for people to continue to follow public health advice including adhering to social distancing guidelines, hand-washing and isolated if they have symptoms or a positive test.
They added: “As lockdown ends and we head into Christmas, it’s more important than ever that we look after ourselves and each other.”