Community screening of those not showing symptoms of Covid-19 will target essential workers during the third national lockdown.
About one in three people has Covid-19 without showing symptoms.
In order to ensure those who are asymptomatic to the coronavirus isolate, lateral flow testing will begin at local authorities in the coming days.
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These lateral flow tests can return results within 30 minutes, without needing to be sent to a lab.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Rapid and regular testing is being conducted by local authorities who design programs based on their in-depth knowledge of local people, so testing can have the greatest impact.
“We are now expanding this offer to all local authorities across the country and calling for testing to target workers who cannot work from home during this nationwide lockdown, while asking employers to work with us to step up labor testing. ‘artwork.
“Lateral flow testing has already been largely successful in finding positive cases quickly – and every positive case found helps stop the spread – so I encourage employers and workers to take up this offer. We all need to do everything we can to stop the spread of Covid, right now.
Across the UK, 131 local authorities have signed up for community testing to date, with 107 having already started testing.
NHS Test and Trace will work with each of England’s 317 local authorities to develop community testing appropriately.
This will be deployed during the lockdown and will be reviewed regularly.
The use of lateral flow tests for community testing has already identified more than 14,800 positive cases of Covid-19.
In conjunction with community testing, NHS Test and Trace will work with government departments to scale up workforce testing.
There are 15 large employers already engaged in a regular workforce testing pilot project, which has conducted approximately 27,000 tests in the public sector.
Greg Jackson is the CEO and founder of Octopus Energy, one of the first companies to join the pilot mass testing program.
He said: “We started the tests in December and they were so well received by our staff that we are continuing them this year.
“I am very proud of the Octopus Energy team who have worked incredibly hard to look after our customers this year and who have also scrupulously followed all of our Covid-19 guidelines whenever they needed to travel to the office, with almost everyone who had to come to the office. office doing a test. ”
Apetito is another company participating in the pilot program.
Lee Sheppard, Director of General Affairs and Policy at Apetito said: “Apetito and its sister company Wiltshire Farm Foods have a critical role to play in delivering food during the Covid crisis.
“We serve some of the most vulnerable and at risk people in hospitals, nursing homes, nurseries and schools and at home through Meals on Wheels and Wiltshire Farm Foods.
“During Covid, our services are more important than ever, as many of our vulnerable customers may depend solely on us for their provision of meals.
“It is therefore essential to ensure that our frontline services can continue to function.
“Working with the government to quickly implement a mass testing program at our manufacturing and distribution sites has strengthened the resilience of our business – while reassuring our staff and customers that we are doing everything possible to keep them safe. at work.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Affairs said: ‘This latest expansion of the testing program builds on the millions of asymptomatic critical workers tested each week, such as NHS patient-facing staff and staff care centers. ”
They further said that existing plans for rapid screening of high school and college students and elementary school staff remained in place.
These include testing sites in high schools, which have started testing staff and students who still attend schools during the lockdown. Likewise, weekly testing is expected to begin “shortly” for primary school staff.
The spokesperson added: “We will continue to work with the decentralized administrations on their community testing projects in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”