FROM BRENT COUNCIL
Brent residents are being encouraged to get tested twice a week as part of their regular routine as the national lockdown in England loosens further.
From today (April 9) everyone in England, including those without symptoms, is eligible to take a free rapid COVID test twice a week to do their bit to ensure they are not spreading COVID. 1 in 3 people with COVID show no symptoms at all so could be spreading it without knowing if they don’t test regularly.
Alongside the rollout of the vaccine, getting tested regularly is vital to help control the spread of the virus – including variants – as more shops and services start to open up again.
Dr Melanie Smith, Brent’s Director of Public Health, says:
Testing is the only sure way to know whether you are carrying the virus as around a third of people with COVID don’t show any signs at all so could be spreading this deadly virus to loved ones and around the community without knowing. Rapid testing does exactly what it says on the tin – providing a result in less than 40 minutes. This means positive cases can be detected quickly and infected people can slow the spread by immediately self-isolating.
From Friday, residents will be able to access rapid lateral flow tests (LFDs) for themselves and their families to use twice a week. Rapid testing had been limited to those most at risk and people needing to leave home for work. Now rapid testing will be offered to everyone – not just frontline NHS workers, care home staff and residents, and schoolchildren and their families.
Since rapid testing was introduced over 120,000 positive cases have been identified. These would not have been discovered without the widespread use of LFDs. By extending their use still further, even more cases will be detected and we can break the chains of transmission and save lives.
Updates will also be made to the NHS COVID-19 app in England to coincide with the offer of rapid testing for everyone. Since its launch in September, over 22 million people have downloaded the app.
Over 100,000 businesses in England have registered their interest to provide rapid tests to their employees, and the offer of free testing is being expanded to companies with over ten workers where on-site testing is impossible.
The expanded testing offer for people without symptoms will be delivered by:
· A home ordering service, which allows people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home
· Workplace testing programmes, on-site or at home
· Community testing, offered by all local authorities – there are five locations in Brent
· Collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collection time windows
· Testing on-site at schools and colleges.
A new ‘Pharmacy Collect’ service is also launching which will provide an additional route to regular testing. People aged over 18 without symptoms will be able to visit a participating local pharmacy and collect a box of seven rapid tests to use twice a week at home.
The best route for testing can be found at NHS.UK/get-tested. If testing at home, individuals will need to register their results online, or by calling 119. After any positive LFT test, they will also need to self-isolate and order a confirmatory PCR test.
For more information about testing go to: www.brent.gov.uk/testing
Symptom-free tests are available at the following locations seven days a week from 9am-6pm:
- Brent Civic Centre - Engineers Way, Wembley Park, Wembley, HA9 0FJ
- Ealing Road Library - Coronet Parade, Ealing Road, Wembley, HA0 4BA
- Harlesden Library - Craven Park Road, Harlesden, NW10 8SE
- Kingsbury Library - 522-524 Kingsbury Road, Kingsbury, NW9 9HE
- The Library at Willesden Green - 95 High Rd, Willesden, London, NW10 2SF
NHS Covid-19 app updates
To coincide with the offer of free rapid testing for everyone, there will be updates to the NHS Covid-19 app in England from 8 April:
· Everyone in a group must check in – In line with new regulations, when a group enters a hospitality venue, every individual must check either by scanning the official NHS QR code poster with the NHS COVID-19 app, or by providing their contact details. Previously, only the lead member of the group needed to provide contact details to check in.
· Venue history sharing – if an app user tests positive, they will be asked to share their venue history in a privacy-protecting way via the app. This will allow venue alerts to be generated more quickly, and improve the ability to identify where outbreaks are occurring and take steps to prevent the virus spreading.
· Additional venue alerts – if a person has been at a venue on the same day as several other people who have since tested positive for Covid-19, they may receive an alert, advising them to book a test immediately, whether they are showing symptoms or not. This is to support finding asymptomatic cases who may have caught the virus but are not displaying symptoms.
· New QR code posters – There will be new posters displaying QR codes for hospitality venues in England. Work has taken place with the industry to make the posters clearer and easier to use. All venues in England in scope of the regulations are legally required to display an official NHS QR code poster.