COVID-19 tests to be given to asymptomatic staff unable to work from home

According to the Department of Health and Social Care, key workers and employees not able to work from home will receive more frequent COVID-19 testing, even if they are not displaying any symptoms.

COVID-19 Tests

Can you get a COVID-19 test if you don’t have symptoms?

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that rapid, regular testing for people without symptoms of COVID-19 will be made available across the country from this week, with local authorities encouraged to target testing at people who cannot work from home during the lockdown.

Around 1 in 3 people have COVID-19 without displaying any symptoms and the expansion of regular community testing will identify more positive cases, ensuring that those infected with COVID-19 can isolate. Pilot community testing schemes using lateral flow tests have already identified over 14,800 positive COVID-19 cases who would not have been identified without targeted asymptomatic testing.

So far, 131 local authorities have signed up to community testing, with 107 already having started testing in their communities. Many of these, including Essex and Milton Keynes, are focusing on the testing of critical workers and those who must leave home for essential reasons.

NHS Test and Trace will also work closely with other government departments to scale up workforce testing. Many employers have taken up regular workforce testing, including organisations operating in the food, manufacturing, energy and retail sectors, and within the public sector including job centres, transport networks, and the military. An estimated 27,000 tests have taken place across the public sector as part of pilots so far.

Who can get a free COVID-19 test?

Currently in the UK, you can only get a free NHS coronavirus (COVID-19) test if at least one of the following applies:

  • you have a high temperature
  • you have a new, continuous cough
  • you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed
  • you’ve been asked to get a test by a local council
  • you’re taking part in a government pilot project
  • you’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result

You can also get a test for someone you live with if they have symptoms.

See also

COVID-19 school shutdown: what employees and employers need to know

Find out more

Get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus (GOV.UK)

Asymptomatic testing to be rolled out across the country starting this week (GOV.UK)

National lockdown: Stay at Home (GOV.UK)

Image: Getty Images

Publication date: 11 January 2021

Any opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and the author alone, and does not necessarily represent that of The Gazette.