Details of a new community testing offer have been set out today by the Government to help local areas detect asymptomatic cases, suppress the virus and offer a route out of the toughest restrictions.
Local authorities in tier 3 areas, the highest level of restrictions, can apply for the new six-week community testing programme to complement wider local strategies to tackle the virus.
The Government will work with local authorities to identify how community testing might be used to help areas in tier 3 move down to a lower tier, whilst continuing to protect the people in those communities and the NHS.
Local authorities will determine the best way to focus testing, suppress the virus and ensure their communities benefit, with potential models including whole population testing of all non-symptomatic individuals over 11 years old, testing targeted on specific geographic areas, such as those with high prevalence, or highly targeted testing on specific locations, employment sectors, or workplaces where there is a high risk.
Local Directors of Public Health will be supported to develop approaches that work for their community, backed by national support and funding. Central government will provide operational support for the design and delivery of community testing programmes, and funding available to local authorities will be estimated based on the number of tests they aim to deliver over the 6 week programme.
The Government will also work in partnership with local authorities to develop initiatives to encourage participation, based on their knowledge of local populations and areas. Examples might include discount schemes with local businesses, partnerships with community organisations or local employers, or door knocking campaigns.
If successful, the community testing programme will be expanded into next year. Applications will be assessed on a number of factors including local infection rates, robust plans for community testing resources and other logistical and commercial considerations to ensure testing delivers the best possible value for money.