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Lateral Flow Testing Starts in Surrey to Detect Asymptomatic Covid Carriers

Published on: 13 Feb, 2021
Updated on: 14 Feb, 2021

A swab is taken for testing

About one in three people infected with Covid-19 have no symptoms, so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. That is why Targeted Community Testing is being launched in Surrey, the county council says.

In partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care, sites are being set up initially in Woking, Spelthorne and Epsom and Ewell as well as community pharmacies.

Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms finds positive cases more quickly, and breaks chains of transmission.

The programme is aimed at adults who cannot work from home during national restrictions. Regular symptom-free testing will help reduce prevalence of the virus in highest-risk areas.

The first three pilot sites, as well as three pilot community pharmacies, will receive lateral flow device (LDF) tests from NHS Test and Trace, which provide results within an hour.

Testing will be available from:

  • February 15 in Staines;
  • February 15 in Ewell;
  • February 18 in Woking; and
  • February 15 in three pilot pharmacies (Cranleigh, Stoneleigh and Caterham) with more to follow.

For more information on how to get a test, visit https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus/testing/symptom-free

All efforts to find people without symptoms work hand-in-hand with the existing free testing service for those with symptoms.

Anyone with one or more of these symptoms, a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste, should book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.

The pilot symptom-free testing centres are open Monday to Friday 8am till 7pm and can be booked via the portal on the county council website. Community pharmacies will be offering tests during normal opening hours.

Ruth Hutchinson

Ruth Hutchinson, county public health director, said: “Symptom-free testing for people still going into work is one of the most effective ways of ensuring our infection rate continues to drop in Surrey.

“Testing will help us to break the chain of transmission by identifying people who have no symptoms and would otherwise be out and about in the community, potentially spreading the virus.

“Thank you to everyone in Surrey for your tremendous efforts over the past year to keep this virus at bay. Let’s keep doing everything we can to get our rates down and keep Surrey safe.”

Health Minister Lord Bethell 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.”

Baroness Dido Harding, interim executive chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said: “Increased community testing is a vital additional tool to help identify those infected and infectious but unaware they might be spreading the disease.

“I urge all those living in areas where community testing is offered to get tested.”

Tests can be booked via the online booking system

See latest testing statistics here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

Extensive clinical evaluation from Public Health England and the University of Oxford show LFD tests are specific and sensitive enough to be deployed for mass testing, including for asymptomatic people.

The Oxford University and Public Health evaluation is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/oxford-university-and-phe-confirm-high-sensitivity-of-lateral-flow-tests

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