Twice weekly Covid testing launched to find the one in three people who don't know they have the virus

Free rapid testing for Covid to be stepped up.

Free rapid testing for Covid to be stepped up. - Credit: CCC

Adults in Cambridgeshire are being urged to take a rapid Covid test twice weekly to help find people in the community who are asymptomatic and could be spreading the disease unknowingly.

It is estimated the one in three people have Covid-19 but do not realise, as they have no obvious symptoms.

Cambridgeshire County Council says people can take a test at sites across the county or collect a testing kit to complete at home.

Lateral flow antigen tests are a new kind of technology that can be used to test people who are asymptomatic.

According to the county council this will "better enabling us to identify and isolate more people who may be spreading the virus. This will break the chains of transmission."

Dr Liz Robin, director of public health for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “Getting into the habit of twice-weekly testing as part of our everyday lives will help us all to keep each other safe. Alongside the ongoing vaccine rollout, it will help us to move forward with the roadmap out of lockdown.

“What’s most important is that as many people as possible take up the offer of twice-weekly rapid testing, whichever option they use. This is especially important for anybody who is going back to work next week following the easing of lockdown restrictions and will be coming into contact with members of the public.”

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A Lateral Flow Test (LFT) detects the presence or absence of coronavirus from a swab or saliva sample. The sample is mixed with a buffer solution, which releases and breaks up virus fragments. Some of the solution is then dropped on to the lateral flow device. The sample runs along the surface of the devices’ absorbent strip, showing at the end a visual positive or negative result dependent on the presence of the virus.

Lateral flow tests detect active infections, with results in minutes. The evidence about their performance is still developing. A key point is the need for a better understanding of their potential to detect the virus at different points in an infection.

Lateral flow tests can be a useful tool to detect people at the most infectious point in an infection, which is an advantage when mass testing, over highly sensitive PCR tests that can give positive results even when people are less infectious.

The recommendation is for two tests a week. There is more information on the Cambridgeshire County Council website about testing centres and how to book an appointment.