express– Community testing is to begin rolling out across England this week, with local authorities encouraged to target testing to people who cannot work from home during lockdown. This means Britons do not need to have symptoms to get a test, with around one in three people have coronavirus without displaying any symptoms.
Not having symptoms but carrying the virus is known as being asymptomatic, and identifying asymptomatic cases can help “break the chain of transmission” Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.
The expansion of asymptomatic testing is aimed at identifying more positive cases of Covid-19 and preventing further spread of the virus by seeing those who are infected with no symptoms isolating.
This in turn will protect those who cannot work from home and our vital services.
Mr 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.”
Where can I get lateral flow test?
From this week, rapid, regular testing for people without symptoms of coronavirus will be made available across the country.
The eligibility of the community testing programme will be expanded to cover all 317 local authorities.
A total of 131 local authorities in England have enrolled in the Government’s community testing regime so far.
The latest to join include Milton Keynes, Slough, Doncaster and Essex.
As well as this, NHS Test and Trace will also work closely with other government departments to scale up workforce testing.
You can visit your local council’s website for up to date information on when and where rapid testing will be available in your area.
The Department of Health and Social Care said councils will be encouraged to test those unable to work from home during lockdown.
This is likely to include police officers, supermarket workers and taxi drivers.
What is a lateral flow test? How does it work?
Lateral flow tests are a quick test for coronavirus, with results back in less than 30 minutes.
First, a swab is taken from the nose and/or mouth.
This swab is then mixed with a buffer solution which releases and breaks up the virus fragments.
Some of the solution is then dropped onto the lateral flow test device which has an absorbent strip.
The virus fragments are then moved along the strip to a set of labelled antibodies which are linked to a visible marker.
This allows the tester to see what the antibodies bind to, recognising specific parts of viral fragments and binding to them.
Then the virus fragments – bound to the labelled antibodies – will reach the test zone.
At the test zone, a line of fixed antibodies will also recognise and bind to virus fragments, and unattached antibodies fix to the control band.
After around five minutes a coloured strip will appear on the control band, which will show the test has worked.
If a coloured band shows at the test zone the test is positive and the virus is present.
Results will be ready between 10 to 30 minutes.