Regular rapid testing for key worker groups without coronavirus symptoms is available across Manchester from today (Tuesday 12 January) for the next six weeks.
The plan is aimed a key workers like health and social care staff, primary school teachers and support teams*, nurseries and early years provision, homelessness teams, as well as others who are unable to work from home during the lockdown.
The weekly rapid lateral flow tests – which can give a result within half an hour - are to protect staff, and the people they need to be with, by helping to break the transmission of the disease by those who do not have symptoms, but may have still caught the virus.
Across the country, it is thought that around one in three people who contract Covid-19 show no symptoms.
Testing will be available for targeted groups of staff at three sites across the city, which be run with the help of Army personnel. The testing will be by pre-booked appointments and will operate seven days a week - and has been designed to accommodate work and shift patterns.
Staff will receive invites and booking telephone numbers through their management teams.
Positive results will also feed into the NHS test and trace system so that possible contacts can be identified.
Councillor Bev Craig, Executive Member for Adult Health and Wellbeing, at Manchester City Council, said: “This by its nature is a very targeted exercise that will help to look after staff and all the people they are with during the course of work, that cannot be carried out at home. It will bring more confidence, and allow us to catch cases more quickly, as well as helping to keep vital services running that this city depends on.”
Colonel Russ Miller, Commander of Army Headquarters North West, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Manchester, along with the other nine boroughs in the city region, by deploying almost 1,000 soldiers - 250 of them in central Manchester - to achieve the city’s priorities for community testing. Having already been involved in the whole town testing pilot in the City of Liverpool and the ongoing programme in Lancashire, we have learned valuable lessons and bring that experience to this task.
“We look forward to working closely with our local authority and Public Health England colleagues over the coming weeks, training others to continue to deliver testing beyond that, and playing a part in helping the people of Greater Manchester back towards normality.”
*Secondary schools are part of a national testing programme.