Sunday, November 7, 2021

England to launch rapid asymptomatic COVID-19 testing this week

The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced that community testing for COVID-19 will now be offered to people without symptoms in England, in a bid to protect people who are unable to work from home during the national lockdown.

According to the DHSC, approximately one in three people who have COVID-19 do not display any symptoms.

Regular testing for asymptomatic people is set to become available across England this week, with local authorities being encouraged to target testing at people who cannot work from home during the lockdown.

This testing programme will use rapid lateral flow tests, which can deliver results within 30 minutes without being sent to a lab.

The aim of expanding the testing to asymptomatic people is to ‘identify more positive cases’, ensuring that people with COVID-19 self-isolate and protect those who cannot work from home.

Currently, 131 local authorities have signed up to community testing in England – out of these, 107 have started testing in their communities.

NHS Test and Trace will also ‘work closely’ with other government departments to expand workforce testing, the DHSC added.

“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,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

“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,” he added.

As of 10 January 2020, a further 54,940 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the UK and another 563 people have died within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test.

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