Top Stories

Covid-19: Rapid tests for asymptomatic people to be rolled out

A member of the British Royal Air Force holds a lateral flow antigen test swab sample

Reuters

Regular rapid testing for people without coronavirus symptoms will be made available across England this week, the government has said.

The community testing regime – expanded to cover all 317 local authorities – uses rapid lateral flow tests, which can return results in 30 minutes.

Local councils are being encouraged to prioritise tests for those who cannot work from home during the lockdown.

Meanwhile, thousands of people over 80 are being invited to book vaccinations.

NHS England says 130,000 letters with invitations for vaccinations began arriving on doormats this weekend, with more than 500,000 following this week.

On Saturday the number of people who have died in the UK within 28 days of a positive Covid test

reached 80,000.

Scientists advising the government have warned that lockdown measures in England need to be stricter to achieve the same impact as the March shutdown.

Under the national lockdown, people in England must stay at home and can go out only for limited reasons such as food shopping, exercise, or work if they cannot do so from home. Similar measures are in place across much of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Department of Health and Social Care said expanding the Community Testing Programme to more people without symptoms was “crucial given that around one in three people” who contract Covid-19 show no symptoms.

It said regular community testing using the rapid tests had already identified more than 14,800 positive Covid-19 cases.

So far, 131 local authorities in England have enrolled in the government’s community testing programme, with Milton Keynes, Slough, Doncaster and Essex the latest to join.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said targeted asymptomatic testing and subsequent isolation was “highly effective in breaking chains of transmission”.

“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,” he said.

Graphic

NHS Test and Trace will also work closely with other government departments to scale-up workforce testing, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

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, the department added.

Banner image reading 'more about coronavirus'

Banner

The Department of Health and Social Care said plans were already in place for rapid testing of staff and students in schools and colleges and staff in primary schools.

It said primary schools would start to get home testing kits for staff shortly to test people on a weekly basis, while “secondary schools and colleges have set up test sites, and have started testing staff and students present on site during the lockdown”.

Staff safety ‘paramount’

Business has welcomed the move.

Matthew Fell, of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which represents 190,000 UK businesses, said rapid mass testing was “a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting on top of the virus”.

He said health and safety of staff was paramount, adding: “This expansion of testing will help more critical workers and those unable to work from home to operate safely, while also catching new cases more swiftly.”

Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has welcomed the opening of a vaccination centre at the ExCel Centre in east London next week – which is also home to one of the Nightingale hospitals.

He said it would be crucial in helping to accelerate the rollout of the vaccine, adding that the capital was in a “critical” situation because of the threat of the virus.

They are among about 1.5 million people in the UK to have had at least one dose of a Covid vaccine so far.

Chart showing priority groups

1px transparent line

Elsewhere, in Wales, police have said people were “blatantly” ignoring rules on lockdown restrictions despite repeated warnings after more than 100 cars were turned away from a beauty spot on Saturday morning.

Around the BBC - Sounds

Around the BBC footer - Sounds

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

BBC News – Health

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *