9 in 10 local authorities in England now enrolled into community testing

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Rapid, regular testing for people without symptoms is now being offered by more than 70% of local authorities in England, through targeted community programmes.

232 local authorities are now rolling out community testing, covering a population of around 42 million people and identifying thousands of positive COVID-19 cases in people not showing symptoms, who could be unknowingly spreading the virus.

Designed and implemented by local authorities, community testing programmes are designed based on local authorities’ in-depth knowledge of the local area.

With around 1 in 3 people who have COVID-19 not showing symptoms, targeted asymptomatic testing and subsequent isolation is highly effective in breaking chains of transmission. Local authorities are currently being encouraged to target testing at people who are unable to work from home during the national lockdown.

Altogether, 9 out of 10 local authorities in England have developed plans for a community testing programme, and those not already offering rapid testing will be rolling it out soon. To date, over 2.2 million lateral flow tests have been carried out by local authorities for community testing programmes, with over 44,000 positive cases found so far.

To make accessing rapid testing even easier, a new postcode checker will be launching on GOV.UK, to help people who need to leave home for work find out if rapid testing is offered by their local authority or near their place of work. Further information about local authority testing services can be found, via the postcode checker, on their websites.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

It is brilliant more than 7 in 10 local authorities in the country are now offering rapid testing to find positive cases and break chains of transmission and even more are due to start soon.

Since the community testing programme was launched in December, local authorities have undertaken incredibly innovative work to rapidly get programmes up and running in local areas, using their local expertise.

I want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the incredible staff and volunteers across the country who are working so hard, alongside local authorities, to help protect people who are unable to work from home, and those at a higher risk of COVID-19, with rapid testing.

Lateral flow tests deliver results in 30 minutes, helping to quickly identify and isolate positive cases and break chains of transmission. Community testing programmes are encouraged to test participants at least twice a week using lateral flow tests, following clinical guidelines.

The community testing programme operates alongside the rapid workplace testing programme, keeping workers who cannot work from home from unknowingly passing on the virus – and protecting vital public services.

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