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Bruno Mars

Community testing in Oxfordshire to be available for key workers from February

Oxfordshire County Council is working to set up facilities in Banbury, Wantage and Oxford city.

The new service will be for key workers and will use rapid lateral flow tests to help identify people who have COVID but display no symptoms.

Identifying infectious individuals early, isolating them, and tracing their contacts can reduce transmission of the virus significantly.

This local initiative is in addition to existing lateral flow testing that has already been put in place nationally in settings such as care homes, hospitals and schools.

It will comprise those key workers not already included in the national initiative - starting with the police and fire service in early February, and gradually expanding to other areas of activity not covered by the national initiative. 

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council's Director of Public Health, said: "We are working closely with partners both locally and nationally to plan the effective rollout of community testing. We are liaising with the Department of Health and Social Care, and the military, and hope to start inviting key workers for a test from early February onwards.

"It is now believed that one in three people infected with COVID do not know that they have the virus. The rapid spread of the highly infectious new variant of coronavirus makes community testing for those who work outside the home an even greater priority. It will allow us to better identify asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19, and so help us more effectively control the virus and stop the spread.

"Community testing is one of a number of local systems we have in Oxfordshire to help manage the virus, including expanded testing capacity for those with symptoms, a local contact tracing service - which has now successfully reached over 1,000 contacts - and our COVID-secure teams, who are working with businesses across the county to ensure they are following lockdown restrictions. Collectively they provide valuable tools in the fight against the virus."

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