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Manx Care to stop delivering Covid-19 PCR testing

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Manx Care will stop delivering Covid-19 PCR testing with effect from 31 August 2022, as part of the Island’s endemic approach to living with the virus.  In addition, from 15 August, people will no longer be required to perform a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) before entering a health and social care setting. However, they are being encouraged to stay away from all Manx Care premises if they are displaying any symptoms of the virus. 

The Covid-19 Swabbing and Testing Service was established on the Island in April 2020, and since then has played a key part in the strategy to manage the spread of Covid-19 within the population. The identification of people with the Covid-19 infection, tracing of close contacts and subsequent self-isolation of those individuals, along with other interventions, helped to limit this during the height of the pandemic. 

Between the launch of the service in April 2020 and the end of July 2022, 169,008 Covid-19 PCR tests have been performed by Manx Care, and the results analysed and reported through the Pathology Lab at Noble’s Hospital. For context, this is around two tests for every member of the Island’s population. Around 750 tests per day were performed at the Swabbing Centre at the Grandstand in Douglas during the height of the third wave of the virus, with 115,000 tests being carried out between 01 April 2021 and 31 March 2022.  

The 111 team have been an integral part of this service - for the PCR swabbing to function as well as it did, the 111 team, Swabbing Centre team and Pathology Lab had to work in collaboration with one another. 

Travel-related PCR testing may be available through a private entity on the Island, or can be booked through most major UK airports. Manx Care will continue to offer some PCR testing on-Island for specific reasons, which are in the event that someone requires this ahead of being admitted to a tertiary centre in the UK for planned hospital treatment, or for some individuals who are actively receiving Rheumatology treatment as part of their care pathway.  

This change follows the Government’s announcement that it will cease to provide LFTs for free to the general public from Monday 15 August, with the exception that these will continue to be free for health and social care workers, individuals who need to screen themselves before undergoing a hospital procedure, and individuals who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable and therefore eligible to receive anti-viral treatments. 

Paul Moore, Manx Care’s Executive Director of Nursing, commented:

'As the Isle of Man continues to adopt the endemic approach to living with Covid-19 and manage it in the same way that it does other respiratory viruses, it’s appropriate that Manx Care reviews its own policies and makes change in line with this. I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to every single one of our colleagues who worked in the Swabbing Team throughout the pandemic, and our colleagues in the Pathology Lab at Noble’s who’ve worked exceptionally long hours to report the volume of test results they have done. They have collectively played a vital role in protecting the Island’s population from the threat posed by Covid-19 and deserve public recognition for this.'