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New Covid-19 pilot for symptom-free testing

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A government backed pilot scheme to test frontline workers who are symptom free will begin in Dudley borough this week.

The pilot is being delivered in partnership by Dudley Council and NHS Test and Trace and will launch on Wednesday December 2 at Saltwells Education Centre.

The pilot will start with testing key frontline council workers and care staff across the borough who have no symptoms of coronavirus.

Appointments will be available by referral only from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

People without symptoms will be given free and fast turnaround lateral flow test kits to help identify if they are asymptomatic and risk accidently spreading the virus to others. This will help break the chain of transmission and reduce the spread of the virus.

Further targeted testing in the community will be undertaken as the pilot rolls out.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said:

I’m really pleased we’re now at the point where we can introduce this in the borough. Unfortunately, just because people are symptom free doesn't mean they are necessarily Covid free. This testing will help prevent people from unwittingly spreading the virus as they simply don't realise they're infected.
We are initially starting with testing care staff and other essential key workers. In addition, it is our plan look at our cases in the borough and, where we know there is an issue or an outbreak, we will ask asymptomatic people to take the test.

Latest data shows there were 318.1 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Dudley over the seven days to November 26. That means some 1,023 people in the borough tested positive for the virus in that seven-day period – although the true number of new cases will likely be considerably higher.

Utilising new technologies, such as lateral flow tests, is key to the government’s plans to roll out mass testing – testing large numbers of people in a short period of time, with test results made available quickly, even on the spot.  

Lord Bethell, Health Minister, said:

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. Innovations such as lateral flow tests hold the key to the next phase of our ambition to see mass, rapid testing available to people across the country.
I’m delighted that Dudley Council is working with us to pilot the latest technology, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of their labour, both in helping target the virus locally, and helping find ways to roll this technology out further.

Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, added:

NHS Test and Trace continues to play a leading role in the fight against Covid-19 with more than 32 million tests processed so far. The work of Dudley Council will be essential in helping us explore the benefits of new technology.
This pilot is one of many which will lay the foundations for the next phase of NHS Test and Trace – mass testing – which will allow us to test even more people, even more quickly.

Dudley’s other test sites across the borough continue to operate for people with symptoms of Covid-19 – a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change to their sense of smell.

To book a test at one of our four testing sites in the borough visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119.

For more information on Dudley borough test sites visit www.dudley.gov.uk/coronavirustesting

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