9 in 10 local authorities roll out community COVID-19 testing
The Government’s push for community testing uptake from local authorities is showing a high-uptake level. Nine in ten local authorities are now enrolled into the testing roll-out programme. The regular testing is searching for asymptomatic cases of coronavirus and uses rapid, lateral flow devices. More than 70% of authorities are already offering this rapid testing to those who are unable to work from home during lockdown restrictions. A new postcode checker has also been launched to allow those unable to work from home to easily identify the closest testing services available to them.
232 local authorities are carrying out rapid testing at present, this means a population of around 42 million people are being offered the service. It is hoped that thousands of positive cases will be picked up through this approach. As around 1 in 3 cases of coronavirus can manifest themselves without any symptoms in the individual, it is essential to have testing facilities in place such as these. Designed and implemented by local authorities, community testing programmes are designed based on local authorities’ in-depth knowledge of the local area.
Over 2.2 million rapid tests have been carried out by these local authorities to date, allowing around 44,000 symptomless cases to be identified so far. The tests provide a result within 30 minutes, permitting swift action to break the chains of transmission between individuals. Participants in the programme are encouraged to carry out the testing twice a week, following clinical guidelines. Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Since the community testing programme was launched in December, local authorities have undertaken incredibly innovative work to rapidly get programmes up and running in local areas, using their local expertise.”