Health, safety & legislation articles for pest control

13 January 2021

UPDATED: Free Covid-19 lateral flow tests for asymptomatic key workers

In an effort to overcome the pandemic, the UK government has announced free Covid-19 lateral flow tests (LFT) for people without coronavirus symptoms. 

The tests can return results in 30 minutes and will be prioritised for essential workers who cannot work from home. 

What is a Covid-19 lateral flow test and how can pest management professionals get one?

NOTE: Updated 8 March 2021 to include new information

covid-19-lateral-flow-test

What is a lateral flow test? 

A Covid LFT uses a swab from a patient's nose or throat to quickly determine if they are infected with coronavirus.

They are useful due to their quick turnaround, and are fairly simple to administer.

They are less accurate than a PCR test, which are reserved for those people who have symptoms, but return results much quicker. 

You can read about the difference types of testing online.

Read more 

Around one in three people who have coronavirus never show any symptoms, but that does not mean they are not infectious.

These tests can help identify people who have high levels of the virus who do not have symptoms, which will be useful for those workplaces where employees cannot work from home during the pandemic. 

Not having symptoms but carrying the virus is known as being asymptomatic, and identifying asymptomatic cases can help “break the chain of transmission” according to experts. 

Although the usefulness of these tests in returning accurate results has been in question recently, a trial in Liverpool found that rapid testing helped cut transmission of the virus by 90%. 

How can I get a free test?

All businesses registered in England can now be part of the scheme, if your employees cannot work from home.

Previously this was limited to businesses with over 50 employees. 

You have until 31 March to register for the scheme, which will remain free until the end of June.

You can register using the Government's online portal, here

Once registered, you may need to attend a virtual briefing on how to access and use the tests. You will be sent a reference number while your eligibility for the scheme is checked and you should receive a response within two working days of registering your interest. 

What if my business isn't registered?

All local authorities in England are also offering rapid lateral flow testing for small businesses if they are unable to offer it at the workplace.

You should get in touch with your local council for the latest information on the rollout of lateral flow tests in your area.

Pest professionals have been confirmed as essential workers by the goverments in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Most people working in pest management cannot work from home, which makes you eligible for receiving a free LFT. 

What if an employee tests positive for Covid-19 using an LFT?

Staff who are having regular LFD antigen tests as part of an asymptomatic testing programme, and who test positive, should self-isolate immediately, along with their household contacts and arrange to have a confirmatory PCR test.

If the PCR test result is negative, they and their household can stop isolating and return to work. If the PCR result is positive, they and their household must continue to self-isolate for 10 days.

You can book a PCR test here

Martin Rose-King, from BPCA member company Bounty Pest Control, commented:

"This is great news - we've been asking for this for months. Pest controllers, as key workers, have to enter homes and businesses to deal with public health pests on a daily basis.

"While we have PPE and multiple procedures in place to ensure we're Covid-secure, having the ability to access lateral flow tests is another helpful tools to help keep each other safe.

"Each of our technicians can now access these tests regulary at our local testing site. We are grateful to our local county council and to the military for enabling the process."

GOT A QUESTION?

If you're a BPCA member wiith a question about Covid-19 testing, please get in touch and we'll try to find the answer for you.

hello@bpca.org.uk

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