People without symptoms of Covid who are not able to work from home are to be prioritised for quick turnaround tests made available to every local authority in England from this week, the Government has said.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said expanding the Community Testing Programme to more people without symptoms is “crucial given that around one in three people” who contract Covid-19 are asymptomatic.
It added councils will be encouraged to test those unable to work from home during lockdown, a move likely to include police officers, supermarket workers and taxi drivers.
Lateral flow tests, which can return results in as little as 30 minutes, are at the heart of the programme, the eligibility of which has now been “expanded to cover all 317 local authorities”, DHSC said.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “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.
“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.
“Lateral flow tests have already been hugely successful in finding positive cases quickly – and every positive case found is helping to stop the spread – so I encourage employers and workers to take this offer up. We must all do all we can to stop the spread of Covid, right now.”
Workforce testing is also due to be “scaled up”.