Rapid tests to detect asymptomatic frontline workers to be introduced in Northumberland
February 3, 2021
Northumberland County Council is setting up a Targeted Community Testing programme to help detect cases of Covid in frontline workers who are not showing any symptoms.
The testing programme will be another tool that can be used to bring coronavirus back under control.
Around 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus are asymptomatic and could be spreading the virus without knowing.
Regularly testing those who are at greatest risk of contracting and spreading the virus will increase the likelihood of quickly identifying cases which would otherwise go undetected, helping to reduce the risk of transmission.
Testing is on an invite only basis initially and will be aimed at frontline critical key workers within Northumberland County Council, who are in regular face-to-face contact with the public.
Over the coming weeks the testing will be expanded to other key workers who cannot work from home and some other groups.
Testing staff have been trained and testing sites are opening at leisure centres in Ashingto
Liz Morgan, Director of Public Health at Northumberland County Council said:
“Along with track and trace and the roll out of the vaccine, this rapid turnaround testing for key workers will provide us with another tool to identify individuals who may pass infection on to other people.
“Quite a few people may not be showing symptoms but could be unwittingly carrying and spreading the virus. This testing programme will help identify these hidden infections and help to break the chain of infection.”
Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) will be used which deliver the results within an hour, and while, like many tests, they are not 100% accurate, they will help identify cases that otherwise would have gone undetected.
Anyone testing positive must isolate at home immediately along with any close contacts. The targeted testing will work alongside the national test and trace system and any positive tests will link to the NHS contact tracing system.
Northumberland County Councillor Richard Dodd, Cabinet member with responsibility for public health said:
“The pandemic is far from over, and we all have an important role to play in fighting it. This is a very targeted exercise that will help to look after staff and all the people they are in contact with during the course of their work. It will bring more confidence, and allow us to catch cases quickly, as well as helping to keep vital services running that this county depends on.”