How fast-results testing can help bring down Covid numbers in Newham

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Aidan Fowler

Dr Aidan Fowler is the government's deputy chief medical officer - Credit: DHSC

With around one in three people with coronavirus not displaying symptoms, Covid-19 can quickly spread in our communities undetected.

You can still pass the virus on to others even if you don’t have symptoms, so it is important we identify as many cases as possible, self-isolate and ultimately break these chains of transmission.

Quickly identifying cases and breaking chains of transmission is how we can reduce the impact of this deadly virus.

As our knowledge of the virus has evolved, we have rapidly expanded our testing capacity to more than 800,000 tests per day, including PCR tests and lateral flow devices (LFDs).

LFDs can detect cases with high levels of virus, making them effective in finding individuals who are the most likely to transmit the disease at the point they are tested, including those not showing symptoms. With results available in around 30 minutes, these devices can quickly find cases which would not otherwise have been found.

On their own, these tests are not a silver bullet for stopping the spread of the virus and it is still crucial that people comply with the lockdown measures, including those who receive a negative test result. But they offer a rapid testing for workplaces whose employees are not able to work from home.

The government has offered rapid asymptomatic testing to every local authority. Councils are encouraged to target testing at people who are unable to work from home, keeping our essential services open and offering a layer of support for those absolutely cannot work from home.

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In Newham, 12 test sites, including nine public sites and three staff-only sites, are staffed by local people who speak many of the languages spoken in the borough. More than 13,500 asymptomatic tests have been carried out at these sites.

There are 300+ Covid Champions supporting the Newham Council to share the message about asymptomatic testing. Newham Council offers a package of support for those who need to self-isolate, including micro-grants, buddies and accommodation. Find out more about community rapid testing on the council's website.

Asymptomatic testing using LFDs is just one tool to combat Covid-19. Sticking to the guidance has never been more important.

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