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  • Fylde Council’s Health Protection Practitioner, Richard Hurt, explains how SMART testing for Covid-19 will play a crucial role in developments in the coming months

As the borough digests Boris Johnson’s roadmap, everyone needs to play their part in making sure the four tests are met at each stage to allow for the continued and cautious unlocking of our lives and economy.

I’ve been working with my team to roll out a programme of asymptomatic SMART testing since late 2020 and we have made huge strides in ensuring those that cannot work from home are regularly tested to keep their colleagues, customers and families safe.

For those who aren’t quite sure what SMART testing is – it’s a non-invasive lateral flow test for individuals who are asymptomatic – those who show no signs of having the virus. SMART stands for Sustained, Meaningful, Asymptomatic, Repeated and Targeted.

There are two main channels in which asymptomatic testing is taking place. SMART testing in the workplace is carried out at large private and public sector organisations after staff have been trained by the military to self-administer the tests.

Many key businesses in Fylde are taking part, which is really encouraging. Workplace testing for companies with more than 50 employees is being encouraged, but if it isn’t feasible, they can send staff to the community SMART testing sites, which is the second route.

Led by my team here at Fylde Council we have set up four hubs in different areas of the borough so those who cannot work from home can be tested regularly. This is open to key workers, community volunteers, vulnerable individuals and employees from other smaller local businesses.

These sites launched in February and initial reaction and take up is very promising. We have seen an increase in attendees each week and out of nearly 900 tests carried out we have had only two positive results.

This means that we stopped the chain of infection from asymptomatic individuals to other members of the community who could be more vulnerable.

People who are eligible for this type of testing are those that cannot work from home and aren’t having regular tests at work.

This includes public sector employees working in local government, charities and voluntary groups, private sector businesses providing key services such as taxi firms, water companies or waste management or education and childcare settings that aren’t covered by existing testing in schools.

I’m really proud of how quickly the team has moved to roll out and expand asymptomatic testing as it is a key element that will help us meet the four tests that are required before each relaxation of restrictions in the coming months.

As more and more sections of the economy reopen we will be ready to offer testing for people that need to go to work to ensure we can continue to pinpoint and isolate any asymptomatic cases.

It is really important that businesses allow employees to get tested regularly to stop outbreaks and, as well as keeping everyone safe, avoid large scale business disruption.

There is a clear road map back to doing the things we love, spending time with people we have missed and getting our economy moving again and, by working together to stop the spread of asymptomatic cases, we will arrive at our destination!

For more information about SMART testing sites in Fylde please visit: https://new.fylde.gov.uk/smart-testing-to-be-rolled-out-in-fylde/

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