All local authorities will be able to offer asymptomatic community testing to critical workers from this week.
The Government is urging local authorities to target testing at people who cannot work from home, warning that one in three people with COVID-19 do not have any symptoms.
NHS Test and Trace will also be working with government departments to scale up workforce testing, with 27,000 tests already taking place across the public sector as part of pilots so far.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘With roughly a third of people who have coronavirus not showing symptoms, targeted asymptomatic testing and subsequent isolation is highly effective in breaking chains of transmission. Rapid, regular testing is led by local authorities who design programmes based on their in-depth knowledge of the local populations, so testing can have the greatest impact.
’We are now expanding this offer to every local authority across the country, and asking testing to be targeted on workers who cannot work from home during this national lockdown, while asking employers to work with us to scale up workforce testing.’
So far, 131 local authorities have signed up to community testing, with many prioritising key workers.
Milton Keynes director of public health, Vicky Head, said: ‘Our pilot for frontline key workers is intended to help break transmission by identifying people who are positive for COVID-19 without displaying typical symptoms. By doing this we can help to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, limit the number of people who might fall very ill, and protect the NHS.’