Essential workers, volunteers and those providing support for vulnerable people will be eligible for a rapid COVID-19 test, Richmond Council has announced.
The test, which is available to those who need regular assurance that they don’t have COVID-19, is designed for people not experiencing symptoms.
The council is expanding testing to include those who work in supermarkets, taxi drivers, transport staff, those who work in key public services or in faith-based organisations.
Leader of Richmond Council, Cllr Gareth Roberts, said: “Over the past few weeks hundreds of people from the wards seeing a high number of cases have been receiving regular asymptomatic testing – to give them the reassurance that they are COVID free.
“However, COVID-19 continues to spread. Whilst most people are following the Government guidance and staying at home, there are some who cannot, for work, volunteering or caring responsibilities.
“We will be expanding up our testing over the weeks ahead as more and more people want to access the service.”
The announcement comes as the government recorded 45,533 new cases of coronavirus, and the total number of UK deaths within 28 days of a positive test has reached 83,203.
However, 14 boroughs have seen a reduction in cases, according to the latest figures, with the biggest drop occurring in Richmond at 20.2% in the weeked to 7 January.
In a Downing Street press conference in December 2020, Boris Johnson warned that one in three people who test positive for coronavirus will experience no symptoms.
He said: “We must remember one of the most striking features of this virus is that it spreads invisibly from people who don’t even have symptoms which is, in fact, around one in three of everyone infected.”
As well as PCR testing, lateral flow devices (LFDs) are one of the tools being used by Richmond Council to help detect and fight Covid-19.
The UK’s regulator approved the Innova lateral flow test in December, despite concerns from experts of inaccuracy.
In a statement, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said: “A negative test result means that the test has not detected the presence of the covid-19 virus, at the time the test was taken.”
The tests, which allow individuals with no symptoms to check if they have the virus when they otherwise wouldn’t know, can give results in under an hour, without the need for laboratory processing.
If you are not displaying any symptoms of Covid-19 and need a test, you can book a lateral flow test here.
You can read about how asymptomatic key workers are getting regular testing in Kingston here.