News, Policy & Media

26Jan

Non-symptomatic COVID-19 testing rolled out in public and private workplaces

Further public and private sector organisations have signed up for rapid coronavirus testing of employees in their workplaces as Government seeks to expand the availability of lateral flow devices in picking up asymptomatic cases of the virus. Companies and organisations which are already involved in rapid testing include Royal Mail, Tate & Lyle Sugars, Primula, Moy Park, Octopus Energy, Apetito, and DVLA. This uptake is due to the fact that around one in three people can carry the virus without showing any symptoms, passing it on to others and continuing the chains of transmission among co-workers or clients.

Millions of rapid testing kits are being made available to NHS and care home staff, primary care workers, schools, colleges and universities, as well as to all 314 local authorities in England via the community testing offer. An estimated 734,600 lateral flow tests have been distributed across the public and private sector so far. The more organisations that sign up, the more information will become available on strategies for introducing rapid testing into workplaces in the most secure and efficacious manner.

Along with the public and private sector rapid testing roll-out, community testing is being bolstered also. There are now 156 local authorities rolling out community testing programmes, with more than 7 million test kits delivered to participating local authorities. Local authorities have been granted the permission to establish the priority of certain worker groups who should access this testing, mostly those who are unable to work from home such as bin collectors, shop workers or those employed in the council.

Tests have been provided to independent sector providers and community interest companies providing NHS care – around 17 million tests have been approved for this, of which 7.5 million have already been distributed. More than 21 million PCR swab test kits and 16 million LFDs have been sent to care homes for testing all residents and asymptomatic staff. The new Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that he was pleased so many businesses have taken up the opportunity of rapid workplace testing. “I would encourage even more to do so and to continue to follow our COVID-secure guidance as we pull together to protect our NHS and save lives”, he commented.

“Mass testing has really helped us get one step ahead of the virus by identifying colleagues who were infectious but showed no symptoms. This has been especially welcome over the last few weeks at our East London factories as the levels of virus in the local area have been extremely high”, noted Gerald Mason, Senior VP of Tate & Lyle Sugars

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