Workplace testing programme ramps up as 48,000 businesses register for free, regular and rapid tests for their employees.
Over 48,000 businesses have registered their interest in the government’s free workplace testing programme, using rapid lateral flow tests that can give a result in 30 minutes.
Over 9,000 businesses have already completed the sign-up process, and all other businesses are encouraged to register by 31 March to help keep their employees safe, prevent outbreaks and suppress the spread of the virus. Businesses are encouraged to register before 31 March, even if they’re not yet open or are not able to start using the tests straight away.
Around one in three people with coronavirus do not have symptoms, which means they could be spreading the virus in workplaces without knowing. Rapid testing for people without symptoms detects cases quickly, meaning positive cases can isolate immediately, breaking chains of transmission.
Testing will form a crucial part of everyday life as parts of society reopen. Regular testing could be the difference between a workplace being able to stay open and operational, or needing to close due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
New analysis by NHS Test and Trace shows lateral flow (LFD) tests to have a specificity of at least 99.9%. This means that for every 1,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there is less than one false positive result.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said:
Businesses have until 31 March to register for the government’s workplace testing scheme, which will remain free until the end of June. Businesses of any size, including those with fewer than 50 employees, can sign up to offer workplace testing. Those who need to leave home for work can also access regular testing through community testing, which is now offered by all local authorities in England.
Regular, rapid testing is already in place for millions of people across the NHS, care homes and schools. The government has also confirmed twice-weekly testing using LFDs for free to all adults in households with nursery, primary, secondary school and college-aged children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles.
This is in addition to the two tests for all secondary and college students and staff per week. Staff at private, voluntary and independent nurseries also have access to rapid testing through their workplace.