Rapid lateral flow (RLF) testing – a new type of coronavirus test which produces results in around 30 minutes – will start today at a new, pilot testing centre at The Place in Oakengates, Telford & Wrekin Council (TWC) says.
Rapid lateral flow tests involve taking a nasal or throat swab, mixing the swab in a liquid to capture any viral particles, and then putting the liquid into a plastic testing kit. Similar to a home pregnancy test, the testing kit will show its results in around half an hour. A laboratory is not required, making the test much faster than previous kinds of testing.
Although some studies have raised accuracy concerns about RLF testing, the NHS has defended their use, saying that they have detected a number of asymptomatic cases that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
“What we are doing here is case detection. We are not saying people do not have the disease if their test is negative,” Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to NHS Test and Trace, told the BBC. “We are trying to say [to people who test positive] ‘You do have the disease and now we want you to go and isolate for 10 days.’ That is a whole different game-changer.”
The new, pilot RLF testing centre for Telford & Wrekin is located in The Place, Oakengates. It will only test people who show no coronavirus symptoms, and people will be invited to take a test over the next few weeks, TWC’s Newsroom post explained.
The goal is to detect asymptomatic cases in people who might be unwittingly spreading the virus. People who receive positive RLF test results will then be sent for a standard coronavirus test to confirm the results.
The pilot testing centre, run by TWC, will work alongside the standard, nationally-run testing centres as part of the borough’s wider efforts to try and slow the spread of coronavirus.
“The Place pilot testing is not for mass testing,” said Liz Noakes, Director of Public Health at TWC. “People can’t actively book a test, unless they are specifically asked to do so by our Council or via their employer.
“We hope those receiving test invites in the coming weeks will book a test as quickly as possible – so they can help us break the chain of infections and ultimately, save lives.”
“We are really proud to be part of this pilot with rapid lateral flow tests in the borough, which will considerably expand our testing offer so more people who have the virus (without any symptoms) can self-isolate and protect others,” said Andy Burford, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care.
“This is particularly important as our borough’s infection rate continues to be above national average.”
The continuing advice is for people to to wash their hands regularly, wear masks, and practice social distancing. NHS England has a full list of steps you can take to help stop the spread of the virus.
People with coronavirus symptoms should self-isolate and book a standard coronavirus test as soon as possible. You can book a test 24/7 online, or by calling 119.