Rapid Covid-19 testing for essential workers without symptoms rolled out by Kingston Council
Many essential workers across Kingston who are showing no symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus) are being offered access to new regular, rapid testing to check whether they unknowingly have the virus.
This will help ensure they can continue to work safely without putting others at risk. One in three people who have coronavirus don’t have symptoms, yet they are still infectious and can pass the virus on to others without realising. Special schools across the borough have now commenced testing for staff without symptoms, and secondary schools are starting to offer it to staff and students who want to take up the offer.
Testing for primary school staff will begin soon. Council staff in many front line services will also be eligible, including Registrars, those in early years settings, adult social care staff and those working for children’s services provider Achieving for Children (AfC). Employees working in non-CQC (Care Quality Commission) registered supported living, care homes and domiciliary care, voluntary care workers and children's home staff, along with other frontline staff, will also be able to access regular testing.
People working in these critical frontline service areas who do not have any symptoms of the virus are being sent an invitation for twice weekly tests at four asymptomatic rapid test sites in the borough - Chessington Sports Centre, Kingston Academy, Kingston University and Richard Challoner School. We are pleased to be working with Kingston University and our secondary schools who are assisting us in rolling-out this testing out more widely across the borough. Those groups of workers eligible for the new rapid asymptomatic tests will receive a letter inviting them to attend with a link to the booking form.
Tests are carried out using a Lateral Flow Device (LFD). These rapid turnaround tests give results in 30 minutes from testing, without the need for laboratory processing, and results are forwarded to individuals via text message. The test involves the person taking a swab of their tonsil area and one nostril. All tests are carried out in a COVID-19 secure way. People attending for testing have to follow all the prevention measures when they attend: wearing a face covering (unless exempt), maintaining a 2m distance from others, and sanitising their hands on arrival at the test site and prior to performing the swab.
Kingston Council’s Director of Public Health Iona Lidington said:
“Testing people working in critical roles who are showing no symptoms of COVID-19 to check if they have the virus is key to breaking the chains of transmission and driving down rates of COVID-19 across our borough. Regular testing for these essential workers who have to leave home to fulfil their roles will help prevent them unknowingly passing on the virus and make sure they are not putting others at risk. By ensuring these twice-weekly tests are readily available to all critical workers, we can keep our local services running safely, ensuring this is not at the expense of spreading the virus further.”
All essential workers who are eligible for this rapid asymptomatic testing have received a letter from Kingston Council inviting them for regular tests. The council will be expanding this offer to further groups, including funeral directors and other frontline staff, in the coming weeks.
This rapid COVID-19 testing (lateral flow testing) programme for people without symptoms is in addition to the existing programme for testing people with COVID-19 symptoms (symptomatic testing sometimes called PCR Testing), that is already available at four venues across the borough.
Testing for people with symptoms of COVID-19
Anyone with any symptoms of COVID-19, which are: a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change in sense of taste or smell - must self isolate immediately and book a coronavirus test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
There are test sites for those with symptoms at Milner Road in Kingston and at Cocks Crescent in New Malden. In addition a Mobile Testing Unit visits the Cattle Market car park in Kingston town centre each week. These tests must be pre-booked, and you will see a list of all local test sites with available appointments when you book your test. Your test result will be emailed or texted to you, and you must self isolate until you receive your result. If your result is positive you and your household must continue to isolate and follow the NHS Test and Trace advice. If you need support with shopping or collecting medicines because you haven’t got this from family, friends or trusted neighbours, please contact the Kingston Stronger Together Hub at kingston.gov.uk/covid19-KST or call 020 8547 5000.
Finally, we urge all those who have the offer of a test to ensure they keep to their scheduled appointments, to help in the smooth running of the service and make the very most of the precious resources we have available in our efforts to control the pandemic.