Testing for Covid-19 using rapid lateral flow tests (LFTs) is due to start across the Royal Borough on Monday 8 February.
This means that those in public facing jobs who cannot work from home - such as supermarket workers, delivery drivers and people working in health and care services - can now get tested.
The local mass testing to locate asymptomatic workers, supported by the Department of Health and Social Care as well as Royal Borough staff and volunteers, will take place in the sports halls at Braywick Leisure Centre and Windsor Leisure Centre, seven days a week: 6am to 8pm weekdays and 10am to 4pm weekends. Testing will be free.
Councillor Stuart Carroll, lead member for adult social care, children’s services, health and mental-health, says: “I’m thrilled that this critical testing is up and running. As one in three people with COVID-19 don’t show symptoms – so are unaware they have it - the aim of community testing is to find these individuals so they can self-isolate and stop them unknowingly spreading it, thus breaking the transmission chain.
“We hope as many public facing workers as possible take up this testing. We appreciate all their hard work so it’s doubly important that we support them with this programme.”
The testing is expected to run until 31 March. Some 7,000 tests will be carried out initially (two tests per person weekly), increasing up to 17,000 tests per week. LFTs are fast, with results in about 30 minutes.
This testing is not for people working from home who’d like to be tested, or for those already showing symptoms.
Public facing workers include:
- Care home staff who can't access testing at work
- Children’s social workers and associated staff
- Construction workers and trades
- Delivery drivers
- Education or childcare settings not covered by existing schools testing
- Emergency workers (police, fire, prison)
- Essential manufacturing and distribution
- Essential retail – including click and collect venues
- Health visitors
- Home care workers
- Informal carers and support workers
- Opticians and optician staff
- Postal workers
- Road maintenance
- Social care workers
- Special needs services
- Supported living workers
- Utility workers (telephone, power and water)
- Vets and veterinary staff
A full list of eligible workers is on the COVID-19 section of the Royal Borough and Windsor website.
Eligible workers simply need to book their test slots online (see above) at a centre and time suiting them. Alternatively, they can also just drop in, although there may be a longer wait to be tested.
LFTs are already being used to find asymptomatic COVID-19 cases in secondary schools and colleges. Staff in primary, school-based nurseries and maintained nursery schools are also being offered this testing via national programmes.
Lord Bethell, health minister, says: “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.
“I’m delighted the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is working with us to roll out community testing, and I look forward to seeing the results.”
Baroness Dido Harding, interim executive chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, says: “NHS Test and Trace continues to play a leading role in the fight against COVID-19. Increased community 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.
“The work of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead will be essential in driving down transmission rates. I urge all those living in areas where community testing is offered to come forward and get tested.”