COUNTY council bosses have hit back at claims the testing capacity in Essex is not high enough.

Essex County Council has said the testing capacity for those without symptoms is "one of the highest in the country", which they say is growing on a weekly basis.

This comes as Labour leaders across the county have written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, urging for increased testing capacity in Essex.

The group, which includes Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend Council, and Gavin Callaghan, leader of Basildon Council, also demanded the capacity of lateral flow tests to allow for the testing of everyone once, on a weekly basis, to use supermarket and council car parks for testing sites, to ensure manufacturers and large businesses report how many staff have been tested and how many of those are positive each week,

The Labour leaders also asked for an increase in the money given to those are isolating as part of test and trace.


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A spokesman from Essex County Council, said: “Thanks to efforts of the county council and its partners across all our borough, district and city councils, the NHS and the voluntary sector, Essex currently has one of the highest levels of testing capacity in the county for people without symptoms – currently 127,000 tests per week - and it is growing by the week.  

“Fast lateral flow testing in Essex has expanded every week since the New Year. 

"Two centres opened last week, one has already opened this week with a further centre in Tendring opening in the next few days, meaning that nine of Essex’s 12 districts will have a fast testing centre by this weekend. 

"In Basildon alone, lateral flow and laboratory testing capacity for people who do not have symptoms is up to 20,000 tests a week. 

"The capacity we have is proving more than adequate for the demand for tests, which has remained consistently high.

“We have already focussed testing on working age adults and those working in manufacturing. 

"The recent introduction of ‘pick up and drop off’ PCR testing kits, available from district councils, is aimed at these groups and has been very successful.

"We have also been working with the Department for Health and Social Care to press for lateral flow tests to be approved for use more widely, including in the home.

“The county council has made its own funding available - £3 million - to support people who need to self-isolate with £500 grant payments per resident, but we welcome all efforts which help to incentivise self-isolation after a positive test. 

"Equally, we share the will of the authors to work constructively and collaboratively with the Government, which is what we and our partners have been doing.”