Locally organised asymptomatic testing has started in Hillingdon to help to protect those most at risk of coronavirus and to slow the spread of infection, using rapid tests supplied by NHS Test and Trace.
Hillingdon Council is working in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care to offer these antigen tests initially to council employees and their families. Testing is taking place at the council’s Civic Centre in Uxbridge.
Roughly one in three people have the virus without symptoms so could be spreading the disease without knowing it.
Rapid turnaround lateral flow swab tests, which provide results within an hour, are being used to proactively test asymptomatic individuals, helping to identify those who unknowingly have the virus and enable those who test positive and their contacts to self-isolate, which can help drive down the R rate locally and save lives.
The council received an initial batch of 13,500 devices as part of a new pilot to enable local authorities to test groups, followed by weekly local allocations.
There are plans to extend this testing programme to non-council key workers and members of the public in due course. Further details will be advertised when available.
In the meantime, residents with coronavirus symptoms are encouraged to book a test at a local testing site at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.
Leader of Hillingdon Council, Cllr Sir Ray Puddifoot, said: “We are encouraging our employees and their families to take part in this lateral flow testing pilot, which, in the first instance, will help us to identify any who have COVID-19 and are unknowingly spreading the virus. This will enable us to break the chain of transmission.
“Combined with our local COVID-19 contact tracing service, which we launched in November in support of the NHS Test and Trace service, this is another tool we can use to keep Hillingdon safe and work towards returning life to as normal as possible.”
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.
“Roughly 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 Hillingdon Council is working with us to roll out community testing, and I look forward to seeing the results.”
For more information about testing and tracing in Hillingdon, and the most up to date guidance for residents, visit www.hillingdon.gov.uk/coronavirus.
(Source: Hillingdon Council)