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Council supports symptom-free testing drive for businesses

Published on 25 February 2021 Print

Walsall Council is backing the government’s COVID-19 symptom-free testing drive for businesses and critical workers, aimed at increasing workplace testing in sectors still permitted to open during lockdown.  

The free testing will help protect employees and prevent the inadvertent spread of COVID-19 in the borough by critical workers who may have the virus but are not showing any symptoms.

The earlier a positive case is identified, the sooner steps can be taken to prevent further transmission and local businesses employing more than 50 staff who cannot work from home are encouraged to sign up.

Councillor Adrian Andrew, Deputy Leader of Walsall Council, said: “Workplace testing for those who cannot work from home and do not have symptoms is another vitally important step in us getting on top of this virus once and for all.

“Worryingly, one in three people with COVID-19 do not have any symptoms but are still infectious and so can pass on the virus without knowing it. Symptom-free testing of critical workers can quickly detect these otherwise hidden cases in those who must leave their home to work and it is an additional tool for tackling the virus in the borough. It also minimises the chances of disruption to a business as a result of staff falling ill or having to self-isolate.

“If we are to break the chain of transmission it is vital that any employee who tests positive stays at home for the full 10 days along with their close contacts. It is a legal requirement to self-isolate if told to by NHS Test and Trace and both employers and employees face fines for breaking these rules. 

“The tests are voluntary but staff should be encouraged to be involved. The more people who get tested in a business helps them stay one step ahead of the virus by identifying employees who were infectious but showed no symptoms.

“My message to Walsall businesses is, this is a national call from the government. If you are eligible please register and carry out your own regular workplace testing of staff. If you are not eligible, there is a strong local offer available for critical workers to have regular, symptom-free testing themselves at a number of designated testing centres around the borough.” 

Companies can register for test kits to be delivered to their work sites if: 

  • the business is registered in England 

  • they employ 50 people or more 

  • their employees cannot work from home.

It will also help manage demand at the borough’s network of symptom-free test sites ensuring those in smaller businesses delivering valued services in our communities are able to access testing as well. Due to current lockdown restrictions these are only for critical workers who have to leave home to work.   

More information about the service and an online application form can be found at on the GOV.UK website: Register to order coronavirus tests for your employees.  

~END~ 

Notes

• The government announced on 7 February a drive to increase workplace testing in sectors open during lockdown, to detect coronavirus (COVID-19) in critical workers who are not showing symptoms.

• Symptom-free testing is a non-invasive lateral flow test for individuals who show no signs of having the virus. It is an easy test to do, involving a swab from the mouth and nose and the results are available in just 30 minutes as they don’t need to go to a laboratory.  

• It is advised that people going into work should get tested every three to four days.

• If businesses are unable to set up their own sites then they are strongly encouraged to advise their employees to visit one of the dedicated critical worker community sites for symptom-free testing in the borough. Please see our website for more information about symptom-free testing for critical workers, including dedicated test centre locations.

• More information on COVID-19 testing in Walsall is available on our website.

• If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you should not visit a symptom-free test site. You should self-isolate immediately and book an NHS PCR test.

• COVID-19 helpline for businesses, organisations and schools  

Walsall Public Health operate a seven-day COVID-19 advice line, available between 8am and 8pm, for businesses, organisations and schools. This should be the first point of call if:   

  • you are notified you have had a positive case in your setting  

  • you are informed of a confirmed case of COVID-19 by the NHS Test & Trace service  

  • you have any questions on infection control to reduce the spread of the virus.   

The team will work with you to assess the risks and advise you of what actions to take. By taking this early action they could stop a major outbreak.     

To contact the team please email walsall.healthprotection@nhs.net or phone 01922 65 8065. 

• Helpline for restrictions on businesses or other venues 

Walsall Council’s environmental health team is working hard to keep businesses and their customers as safe as possible from COVID-19. The service works with businesses to provide help and advice on the government COVID-19 restrictions. They will also investigate complaints and respond where necessary with robust enforcement action. Please contact the team with your queries or to report a non-compliance. 

Phone 01922 653366 or email covid19reporting@walsall.gov.uk