Lateral flow testing extended to more businesses
More businesses are now eligible to register on the Community Testing programme, which enables employees to self-swab for COVID-19 using Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs).
Businesses can register online to receive their LFT kits so that employees can be tested within the workplace, on a weekly basis. This will help identify and isolate cases, to reduce the spread of transmission and outbreak in the community.
Businesses in any of the following sectors are now eligible for the programme:
building and construction
customs and immigration
domestic cleaning services
legal and financial services
leisure and recreation
security and facilities management
utilities and infrastructure
voluntary and community services
worship, funeral, and wedding services
other healthcare services including all registered professionals
agriculture and fisheries
postal, freight and delivery service
wellbeing, cosmetic and beauty
veterinary practices and animal husbandry
children's social care
Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat said: "Lateral flow testing offers a different but crucial role in the COVID-19 testing strategy which is a vital cornerstone in how we manage COVID-19. It is a simple way to test those who do not have symptoms but who may still be unknowingly spreading the virus.
"Identifying positive cases is integral to keeping our Island safe and controlling transmission. While the vaccination programme is proving to be very successful, it cannot be used as a stand-alone defense against the virus. Testing and other public health mitigations are just as important at this time and COVID testing continues to be necessary for both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated Islanders. I encourage all of those eligible to register and utilise this important programme."
Those eligible for LFT can choose to remain on their current workforce screening programme, which offers a PCR test every 8 weeks, or register for the new LFT programme.
Director of Testing and Tracing Rachel Williams, said: "The LFT programme was first rolled out to public facing businesses due to their higher risk of COVID spread, but I'm pleased the programme is now available to many more people – including Islanders in their place of work, and those making an important contribution to our community through the voluntary sector.
"The programme will help identify positive cases in the community, in order to reduce the risk of COVID spreading onwards and causing clusters and potential disruption to businesses and services. It means that Islanders can get tested at their workplace, at a time that suits them and their team, and receive results within just 20-30 minutes.
"It really is a quicker, easier way of ensuring staff are safe but also businesses and services are safe and being part of the programme will help to ensure the Island is kept safe as we continue into the summer.
"We have also amended the isolation policy for positive LFT cases. Now, if household members can remain separate, at a safe distance, within their home, they do not need to isolate with the positive individual while they await a negative PCR test. This means there should minimum disruption for many Islanders who participate in this programme, as PCR results are returned within an average of 12 hours."
Business managers or owners are encouraged to assess their workplaces and follow the LFT guidelines about how these tests can be implemented into their routines.
Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, said: "Businesses that sign up to this testing programme can feel confident that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is reduced in their workplace and they are preventing the need to temporarily close due to clusters.
"By getting tested employees are supporting their workplace as well as customers, visitors and colleagues. I encourage all eligible businesses to sign up and employees to volunteer to take part in the programme which has benefits to their own family and friends."
Businesses can access advice and information online where they can follow a link to a secure portal for registration. Upon registration, businesses will be approved and sent the first month's supply of test kits for their staff.
Those who test positive with the LFT kit, must immediately leave the workplace and stay away from other members of their household. The positive person should phone the helpline to arrange a PCR test within 24 hours and continue isolating within their home until a negative PCR is received. If other household members cannot keep a safe distance, the whole house will need to isolate until the person receives a negative PCR result.
The result from a lateral flow test cannot be used for travel as evidence of being COVID negative and is not the equivalent of PCR test.
Step-by-step guides and instructions are available to download, as well as videos on YouTube. For more information on joining the programme please contact the Coronavirus Helpline on 0800 735 5566.