Rapid testing to target worst hit areas

Rapid Covid testing will target areas where infection rates are highest when it is rolled out across the county from next week.

Health chiefs have today unveiled plans for 20,000 lateral flow test kits, which will be offered to people who are asymptomatic. They provide results in half an hour without the need for a lab.

Dr Richard Harling, director for health and care in Staffordshire, said a number of settings will be targeted, including universities, sixth forms, public sector partners, large employers and care providers.

There will also be a focus on communities where the case rates are highest, he said.

Infection rates have surged across the county in recent weeks, with South Staffordshire showing 450 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to November 12, after 506 new cases were recorded.

Other rates include Lichfield (426.7), Stafford (419.6) and Cannock Chase (362.2).

Dr Harling said: "We are expecting of 20,000 lateral flow tests initially, with further supplies available in subsequent weeks.

"By widening our offer of testing, we can identify more people who have the virus and need to self-isolate, which in turn stops the spread of infection and reduces the number of cases."

Staffordshire is one of 67 local authority areas to pilot rapid testing, which follows a mass testing scheme in Liverpool where almost 100,000 people were tested over 10 days.

A scheme is set to start in Wolverhampton tomorrow from a city temple, while up to 25,000 people a week will be tested in Stoke-on-Trent.

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