- Community testing initiative to launch to drive down transmission rates
- Testing to begin in West Berkshire to help protect people most at risk, using rapid turnaround tests supplied by NHS Test and Trace.
The community testing initiative, in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care, is launching at Highwood Copse Primary School in Newbury, to help drive down transmission rates.
Around one in three people who are infected with Covid-19 have no symptoms so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly, and break chains of transmission.
With its targeted approach, community testing aims to reduce the prevalence of the virus in the highest risk areas.
West Berkshire Council will receive a batch of 24,000 lateral flow tests as part of a new pilot to enable local public health leaders to start testing critical and key workers.
Testing will be available for asymptomatic individuals, critical and key workers from Monday 8 February. Those eligible for appointments will be contacted directly and provided with a booking link.
All efforts to find people without symptoms work hand in hand with the existing free testing service for those with symptoms. Anyone with one or more of these symptoms: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste should book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
West Berkshire Council is looking to set up four testing sites in total in the coming weeks to the East and West of the district to facilitate testing of as many key and critical workers as possible to protect those who live and work within West Berkshire.
There is one PCR test centre in the area which is open seven days a week:
Newbury Showground – Priors Court, Hermitage, Thatcham, RG18 9QZ. Testing must be booked in advance.
Cllr Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council, said:
“Providing community testing in West Berkshire will help to limit the transmission of Covid-19 and give people the confidence to go about their work knowing that they are reducing the risk of spreading the virus to people who are more vulnerable than themselves.
“I urge critical and key workers to take up the invitation to have testing done and see this process as another part of our defence against Covid-19.”
Nick Carter, Chief Executive Officer of West Berkshire Council, said:
“West Berkshire Council is expected to open four testing centres in the East and West of the District soon and I am confident that they will play a crucial role in keeping critical and key workers, plus the wider community, safe against the virus.”
Health Minister, Lord Bethell, said:
“We’ve already come so far since first setting up a national testing programme at an unprecedented pace to help counter COVID-19, but we continue to strive to go further, faster.
“Around one in three people have the virus without symptoms so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly, and break chains of transmission.
“I’m delighted that West Berkshire Council are working with us roll out community testing in Newbury, and I look forward to seeing the results.”
Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said:
“NHS Test and Trace continues to play a leading role in the fight against COVID-19. Increased community testing is a vital additional tool at our disposal to help identify those who are infected and infectious, but unaware that they might be spreading the disease.
“The work of West Berkshire Council in West Berkshire will be essential in driving down transmission rates. I urge all those living in areas where community testing is offered to come forward and get tested.”
- On 9 November the Prime Minister announced that lateral flow tests will be sent out by NHS Test and Trace to local public health leaders to enable local teams to direct and deliver testing based on their local knowledge. And with nearly 1.5 million lateral flow test kits delivered to 90 local authorities across all levels of tier restrictions to date, locally led testing is already underway across the country.
- This offer of a regular supply of lateral flow tests is available to local authorities in all tiers, and we are committed to providing lateral flow tests to all Directors of Public Health who want them, regardless of which other testing schemes they are participating in.
- The community testing programme is in addition to that initial roll out of lateral flow devices to Directors of Public Health announced on 9 November but is targeted specifically for areas with high case rates.
- The government has also committed to providing the devolved administrations with an allocation of lateral flow tests as they are made available, as part of UK-wide collaboration to stop the spread of the virus.
- See latest testing statistics here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
- Lateral flow tests are a new kind of technology that can be used to test a higher proportion of asymptomatic people, better enabling us to identify and isolate more people at risk of spreading virus, and break chains of transmission. Lateral flow devices do not require a laboratory to process the test. Extensive clinical evaluation from Public Health England and the University of Oxford show lateral flow tests are accurate and sensitive to be deployed for mass testing, including for asymptomatic people.