All working people in Stoke-on-Trent told to get tested for Covid-19 at least once a week


All Stoke-on-Trent residents who have to go out to work are now being urged to get tested for Covid-19 at least once a week.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council wants everyone who cannot work from home to make regular use of the rapid lateral flow testing now being provided at venues across the Potteries seven days a week.

The council is also writing to 41 of the largest businesses in the city to offer them free rapid testing for their employees.

Lateral flow tests, which provide results within 30 minutes, are only intended for people without coronavirus symptoms – anyone with symptoms should still book a slot at a regional testing site.

Council leaders are aiming to test up to 25,000 Stoke-on-Trent residents a week by the end of January. On Monday a total of 1,138 lateral flow tests were carried out in the city, the highest daily figure so far, but still some way short of this target.

Concerns have previously been raised that people who work during normal office hours on weekdays can struggle to book a lateral flow test at a convenient time, due to the lack of out-of-hours sessions.

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Council leader Abi Brown said the authority planned to roll out testing to more workplaces as well as more venues in the community. She said: “We are targeting the largest employers in the city – those with 200 or more workers – and inviting them to carry out regular testing of their staff. People who work at the hospital will already have access to rapid testing.

“But for people who work elsewhere we are ramping up our community testing. On Wednesday we had two sessions, which is a doubling of provision, and we are also putting on sessions at the weekend.

“I am confident that we are on course to hit our target by the end of the month.”

All businesses in the city with more than 200 staff are being invited to contact the council to talk about workplace testing.

In order to gain access to the free testing kits, the businesses will have to meet various criteria, such as having workers available who can be trained up to oversee the tests and having socially-distanced space to carry out the tests.

There is a lateral flow testing centre at Dimensions

They must also be prepared to carry out the tests regularly – at least fortnightly – and share the results with the council.

Workers who do not have access to workplace testing can book a slot at the community testing sessions being organised by the council.

The latest sessions will be held at Northwood Stadium today and Friday, and at Dimensions Leisure Centre on Saturday and Sunday. Each of these sessions will take place from 9.30am and 3pm, and appointments must be booked in advance at www.stoke.gov.uk/bookatcovid19test

Opposition Labour group leader Jane Ashworth says the council should be providing more testing out-of-hours for working people.

She said: “If they want people who go out to work to get tested they really need to make the testing available at convenient hours for them. They also need to make sure that employers in the city are prepared to allow their workers to get tested during working hours.”

The council hopes that increasing the level of asymptomatic testing will help bring down the city’s Covid-19 infection rate, which has been rising again since late December.

Stoke-on-Trent currently has a seven-day case rate of 448.2 per 100,000 people – an increase of 54.9 per cent on the previous week. Public health officials are also concerned about the rising positivity rate, with 14.3 per cent of PCR tests of city residents now coming back positive. Infection rates are highest among 30 to 40-year-olds.

Businesses interested in hosting workplace testing should email LFTEnquiries@stoke.gov.uk for more information.

Anyone who has coronavirus symptoms should book a test at a regional testing site at https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test, or by calling 119.





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