The government have announced the national roll out of asymptomatic rapid testing across England, encouraging tradepeople to get tested, even if they’re not showing symptoms of Coronavirus.
Rapid, regular testing for people without symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) will be made available across the country from this week, with the eligibility of the community testing programme expanded to cover all 317 local authorities.
Local authorities will be encouraged to target testing at people who are unable to work from home during the national lockdown, naming tradespeople in particular, amongst those who should use the service.
Expansion of asymptomatic testing will identify more positive cases of COVID-19 and ensure those infected isolate, protecting those who cannot work from home and our vital services. This programme is crucial given that around 1 in 3 people have coronavirus without displaying any symptoms.
The single most important action we can all take to protect the NHS and save lives, is to stay at home.
So far, 131 local authorities have signed up to community testing, with 107 already having started testing in their communities. Many of these, including Essex and Milton Keynes, are focusing on the testing of critical workers and those who must leave home for essential reasons.
In addition to local authorities, NHS Test and Trace will also work closely with other government departments to scale up workforce testing. Many are already piloting regular workforce testing, with 15 large employers having taken up this offer already across 64 sites, including organisations operating in the food, manufacturing, energy and retail sectors, and within the public sector including job centres, transport networks, and the military. An estimated 27,000 tests have taken place across the public sector as part of pilots so far.
BiKBBI CEO Damian Walters welcomes the rapid testing roll out by saying: “This is a great move that will reduce risk to public health, whilst facilitating tradespeople and their vital contribution to our economy. These small enterprises play a vital role within their communities and this testing will help control the spread of this awful virus”.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “With roughly a third of people who have coronavirus not showing symptoms, targeted asymptomatic testing and subsequent isolation is highly effective in breaking chains of transmission. Rapid, regular testing is led by local authorities who design programmes based on their in-depth knowledge of the local populations, so testing can have the greatest impact.”
Mr Hancock added: “We are now expanding this offer to every local authority across the country, and asking testing to be targeted on workers who cannot work from home during this national lockdown, while asking employers to work with us to scale up workforce testing. Lateral flow tests have already been hugely successful in finding positive cases quickly – and every positive case found is helping to stop the spread – so I encourage employers and workers to take this offer up. We must all do all we can to stop the spread of COVID, right now.”
Rapid testing can be organised via the local authority, not via the national booking service at present. Tradespeople are encouraged to visit their local authority website to arrange the test.
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