Asymptomatic testing to be rolled out across England

asymptomatic testing

Asymptomatic testing will be made available to all local authorities across England this week after research revealed 1 in 3 people have coronavirus without showing symptoms

Rapid and regular testing for people without symptoms of 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.

So far, 131 local authorities have signed up to community testing, with 107 already having started testing in their communities. They are being encouraged to test people who are unable to work from home during the national lockdown.

NHS Test and Trace will also work closely with other government departments to scale up workforce testing.

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.

“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.”

Targeted, regular community testing using lateral flow tests has already identified over 14,800 positive COVID-19 cases. Lateral flow tests go through a rigorous evaluation by the country’s leading scientists and can return results within 30 minutes, without needing to be sent to a lab.

Milton Keynes Director of Public Health Vicky Head said:

“In Milton Keynes our transmission rates are serious and there’s no single hotspot or outbreak locally that’s driving this – it’s general person to person transmission that we can all help to control. One in 3 people with COVID-19 have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.

“Our pilot for frontline key workers is intended to help break transmission by identifying people who are positive for COVID-19 without displaying typical symptoms. By doing this we can help to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, limit the number of people who might fall very ill, and protect the NHS.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

“The safety of our workforce has been an absolute priority for this Government throughout the pandemic, and it has been incredible to see businesses go to extraordinary lengths to put the safety of their staff and customers first.

“With the expansion of asymptomatic testing for those unable to work from home, added to our comprehensive COVID-Secure guidance, we can keep our economy on the move while giving individuals in key sectors complete confidence that their workplace is safe.

“During this difficult period, it is fantastic to see so many major employers taking up the offer of rapid, regular workforce testing, and I’d encourage even more to do so as we pull together to protect our NHS and save lives.”


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