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Community testing to be available for some key workers from early February

Community COVID-19 testing services for key workers will start to be rolled out in Oxfordshire in early February.

It 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.

The new service will be for those who have to leave home to go to work during lockdown. 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. 

Oxfordshire County Council is currently working with district and city councils to set up community testing facilities in three locations – one in Banbury, one in Wantage, and one in the city of Oxford.

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.”

Residents are also reminded of the following:

  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days and get a test. Do not wait for a test or test result before self-isolating.
  • Anyone with symptoms should book a test at or by calling 119.
  • Testing sites are available across Oxfordshire and there are currently plenty of slots available at all sites.
  • The main symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature, a new continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.
  • If another member of your household has symptoms, you must self-isolate. Further guidance on self-isolation is available on the government’s website.
  • If you have been abroad and are in quarantine, you should get a test if you develop symptoms.
  • If you are self-isolating or in quarantine, then a negative test result does not mean you can end isolation early. The virus can take time to develop and so a test early on does not prove that you will not go on to develop the virus – you could still be at risk of spreading the virus to other people.