A proportion of people are asymptomatic and yet the virus is found to be present on testing and so they are in danger of spreading it to others without knowing.
Tests will initially be for front line staff to protect residents from inadvertently coming into contact with the virus, but plans are well under way to extend the programme to include care providers, police and fire services, businesses, the voluntary sector and targeted communities in the borough. A further Rapid Test Centre is due to be opened later in January.
The lateral flow testing process is quick and does not require laboratory processing meaning that results are available within 30 minutes of taking the test. Those who test positive will be asked to self-isolate and recommended to take a further home ‘PCR’ test to confirm the results.
This process is not for those with symptoms – anyone feeling unwell with any of the coronavirus symptoms - a high temperature, continuous cough or a change in taste or smell should book a test through the normal government route online at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.
Cllr Colin Smith, Leader of Bromley Council said: “We are obviously delighted to be able to make this announcement, coming as it does at a time when local infection rates are continuing to hit worryingly new highs on a weekly basis.
“Building further on the existing NHS PCR test sites in St Paul’s Cray and Crystal Palace and the temporary mobile site at Norman Park, as well as Bromley’s well established testing programmes covering care homes and the borough’s domiciliary care workers who look after our more vulnerable residents in their own homes across the borough, this programme holds the potential to save a countless number of Bromley residents’ lives.
“If those testing positive do the right thing and stay at home for 10 days after being identified, it will significantly contribute to our chances of suppressing the virus locally and winning the vital race against time to roll out the vaccine to those whose lives quite literally depend on it.
“I remain in absolute awe of the manner in which the council staff involved have so selflessly volunteered themselves to step in and be trained up to run this initiative and wish to publicly thank every single one of them for rising to the challenge at our time of critical need.
“We are incredibly lucky to have such dedicated people working for us locally”
Health Minister Lord Bethell said:
“We’ve already come so far since first setting up a national testing programme at an unprecedented pace to help counter COVID-19, but we continue to strive to go further, faster.
“Roughly one in three people have the virus without symptoms so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly, and break chains of transmission.
“I’m delighted that Bromley Council is working with us roll out targeted testing in the Borough, and I look forward to seeing the results.”
Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said:
“NHS Test and Trace continues to play a leading role in the fight against COVID-19. Increased community testing is a vital additional tool at our disposal to help identify those who are infected and infectious, but unaware that they might be spreading the disease.
“The work of Bromley Council in the borough will be essential in driving down transmission rates. I urge all those living in areas where community testing is offered to come forward and get tested.”