Rapid targeted testing initiative offered to council staff in Stockport

Lateral flow tests are now being offered by Stockport Council to its frontline staff and those from partner organisations as part of its targeted community COVID-19 testing.

Rapid targeted testing initiative offered to council staff in Stockport

Lateral flow tests are now being offered by Stockport Council to its frontline staff and those from partner organisations as part of its targeted community COVID-19 testing.

Stockport Council is carrying out lateral flow tests by invitation only for staff who can’t do their work solely from home, especially those working with the over 70s, as one of the many measures being used to drive down transmission rates of Covid-19.

Testing is voluntary for all staff groups, only takes a few minutes and results are returned to mobile phones around 30 minutes.

Around one in three people who are infected with Covid-19 have no symptoms, so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Rapid testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly and by self-isolating it will break chains of transmission. However, a positive or negative result will not remove the need to follow existing COVID-19 measures socially and in the workplace.

With its targeted approach, rapid testing aims to reduce the prevalence of the virus in the highest risk areas. Council staff are playing a vital role in helping local people during the pandemic, including the most vulnerable. The community-based nature of many of these roles, means that they’re also more like to come into contact with the virus.

Targeted lateral flow testing will complement and support, not substitute, existing national coronavirus testing – anyone with symptoms - a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste - should book a free NHS test using the GOV.UK website or by calling 119.

Councillor Jude Wells, Stockport Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Care & Health, said: “It’s important we look for ways to protect critical workers and the communities within which they work. In line with guidance, council staff are working at home where possible, but for those staff that need to work within the community in vital support roles, we’re introducing rapid testing. Lateral flow tests will be a useful tool in identifying the 1 in 3 people who have COVID-19 but don’t show symptoms, who otherwise could be spreading the virus without their knowledge, so we can support them to isolate and break the chain of transmission and help slow the spread and protect other people . This is an important way to protect those at highest risk.”

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 Stockport Council are working with us roll out staff testing 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 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.”