Workers encouraged to get Covid tests twice a week to 'break infection chain'
- Credit: Suffolk County Council
Businesses in Suffolk are being encouraged to protect themselves against coronavirus by getting their staff tested twice a week to "break the chain of infection".
The Yes 2 Test campaign, which launches today, asks companies across the county to commit to whole-staff lateral flow testing - either at workplaces or by encouraging staff to sign up for home testing kits.
The Suffolk Resilience Forum campaign has been launched as major parts of the economy prepare to reopen from Monday, April 12.
As part of the government's roadmap out of lockdown, pubs and hospitality venues can reopen, along with non-essential shops, gyms and leisure centres.
The Suffolk Resilience Forum said many businesses have already signed up to Yes 2 Test, such as Adnams, Notcutts and Berry Global.
This number is expected to grow as lockdown measures continue to ease.
Stuart Keeble, director of public health at Suffolk County Council, said: “Twice-weekly testing is absolutely key in making sure we break the chain of infection as quickly as possible.
“With one in three people with Covid-19 having no symptoms, the virus can spread undetected and, as we know, this can have a devastating impact on a workplace.
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"Businesses have had an incredibly tough year and have adapted and changed to weather the storm – testing is another Covid measure that must be undertaken.
"We must say Yes 2 Test.”
There are a number of ways for staff to get tested, including testing at work or home testing kits.
Business owners have until 11.59pm on Monday, April 12 to register at www.gov.uk for on-site workplace testing for all staff, or to sign-up for Workplace Collect - which enables staff to collect rapid test kits from work and take them home.
Home testing kits are also now widely available and these can be accessed either by ordering online, collection from community testing sites, some pharmacies and PCR testing sites at designated times.
Many Suffolk businesses and organisations are already supporting Yes 2 Test.
Sadie Lofthouse, director of culture and performance at Adnams, said: “From the very beginning of the pandemic we have had three clear goals. To keep our employees, our customers and our local communities safe, to protect a business that’s 150 years old and to save as many jobs as possible.
“One of the key things we can do to continue with those three goals is to make the best use of lateral flow tests.
"We were able to put some really good measures in place as we made all of our sites Covid-secure, but it’s inevitable that as we get busier and have more people on site, our teams will come into contact with each other and customers more – even with social distancing in place."
Suffolk County Council’s mobile community teams will be available to support workplaces with setting up testing on site.
The teams also run test and collect engagement days at workplaces to help familiarise staff with how to test at home, report their tests and provide an initial supply of kits for staff to take home prior to delivery of the government’s Workplace Collect orders.
For information or to book a team, email here.
Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “Testing is an important tool in preventing the spread of coronavirus and we would encourage all businesses to take up the offer of free tests for their employees.
“As well as protecting the health of your staff and customers by identifying cases in those with on symptoms, it can minimise disruption to your business which could occur if large numbers of staff need to self-isolate.”
Suffolk’s business owners and managing directors are also invited to sign up to become ambassadors of Yes 2 Test and share their experiences of implementing whole-site testing or incorporating regular testing into their job requirements.
For information about workplace testing in Suffolk, visit the Yes 2 Test website here.