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Workplace testing programme expands

Lateral Flow test

Employers who have more than 10 staff will now be able to offer their employees free, rapid and regular COVID-19 tests that can be taken at home.

From Tuesday, 6 April, the workplace testing programme will supply home test kits to companies with over 10 workers where it is not possible to set up testing on-site, due to a lack of space or because companies operate across many sites.

Businesses in Bracknell Forest will be eligible to order the home test kits online to distribute to their employees. These self-test kits will be picked up by staff from their employer with clear instructions about how to take the test. Staff will then complete the home test in the normal way, before reporting their results to the NHS.

The workplace testing programme uses lateral flow tests (LFD) to detect the virus in 30 minutes. Swift detection of cases means those who test positive can isolate immediately and, in doing so, break chains of transmission and suppress the virus.

Cllr Paul Bettison OBE, Leader of Bracknell Forest Council and Chairman of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board, said:

“Around 1 in 3 people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms, which means they could be spreading the virus in workplaces without knowing.

“By getting tested regularly, we can help prevent asymptomatic transmission and keep our infection rates low.

“We urge businesses in Bracknell Forest to register for the workplace testing programme so that we can protect our borough.”

Businesses should register before 12 April to access free tests until the end of June, even if they're not yet open or are not able to start using the tests straight away.

As well as reporting their result to the NHS, employees should tell their employer of a positive result and take a confirmatory PCR test. Employers will retain an important role in encouraging their employees to take and report the results of their test.

Employers with fewer than 10 people can alternatively access regular testing through the community testing programme, for more details visit the rapid testing page.

Testing will form a crucial part of everyday life as parts of society reopen. Regular testing could be the difference between a workplace being able to stay open and operational, or needing to close due to a COVID-19 outbreak. For many employers on-site testing has already become an essential part of its employee offer and a routine part of working life.

Regular, rapid testing is already in place for millions of people across the NHS, care homes and schools. Twice-weekly home testing using lateral flow tests are also available for all adults in households with primary, secondary school and college aged children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles.

This is in addition to the 2 home tests for all secondary and college students and staff per week. Staff in primary schools, and in private, voluntary, and independent nurseries also have access to rapid testing through their workplace.