Cornwall-based employers whose staff carry out essential duties but are unable to work from home will have access to twice-weekly asymptomatic testing from next week.
The Community Testing Programme uses rapid Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) and ensures businesses can continue to operate as efficiently as possible while protecting their staff and the wider community.
Launching on Monday, March 1, and co-ordinated by Cornwall Council, it is aimed at groups such as childcare staff, cleaners, construction workers, delivery drivers, factory workers, taxi drivers and retail assistants.
It also includes frontline Council staff and firefighters, as well as voluntary sector workers and people who are self-employed.
The programme is an extension of existing workplace testing schemes available to NHS and frontline workers.
Those who test positive will be asked to self-isolate immediately to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Around one in three people who test positive have no symptoms, meaning they go about their everyday lives oblivious to the fact they are spreading the virus.
The LFT results are provided in just 30 minutes and are being made available to employers in two ways:
- Option 1: Tests are carried out on the business premises twice a week, overseen by a nominated and trained member of staff.
- Option 2: Employees of the business can access one of three drive-through testing sites in Camborne (Dolcoath Avenue), St Austell (Penwinnick Road) or Liskeard (Luxstowe House) twice a week, during working hours. Sites are open seven days a week from 9.30am to 4.30pm.
More than 200 businesses responded to a survey from the council aimed at gauging their interest in the programme.
Organisations with more than 50 employees are requested to apply to the national workplace testing scheme.
Cllr Sally Hawken, Portfolio Holder for Children, Wellbeing and Public Health, said:
“Allowing businesses to test their staff in this way is vital to stop the spread of the virus, keep our communities safe and ultimately save lives.
“It will also stop the virus spreading throughout entire workforces, which means companies in Cornwall will be able to keep trading, protecting our economy as much as possible.”
Dr Caroline Court, Consultant in Public Health Medicine and Cornwall Council’s lead on Covid-19 testing, said:
“This asymptomatic testing programme is hugely important and we are pleased to see so many businesses expressing an interest in it.
“By quickly identifying people who have Covid-19 without symptoms we can prevent them from inadvertently spreading the virus around their workplace, homes and communities. The local contact tracing team can also then contact them to offer support and guidance, as well as swiftly identifying people they may have passed the virus on to.”
Rachel Wigglesworth, Director of Public Health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said:
“It’s great news that the Community Testing Programme is now available in Cornwall and we are encouraging as many businesses as possible to take part.”
Staff need to be tested twice a week for the testing programme to be effective.
Anyone who tests positive must self-isolate for 10 days. Those who test negative still need to stick to the ‘hands, face, space’ and ‘stay at home’ lockdown guidance.
Confirmatory PCR tests are not currently required following positive Lateral Flow Tests. Home testing is not an option in the Community Testing Programme.
Essential workers whose employers are not signed up to the programme can still book an asymptomatic test at one of the drive-through sites.
Businesses interested in signing up to the programme should do so by completing the Council’s rapid community testing business survey.
Details on how to apply for the self-isolation support payment visit the website pages.