PEOPLE in public-facing roles will be able to get a rapid Covid-19 test for free from today.

Oxfordshire County Council is now working in partnership with local authorities to deliver regular testing for those not displaying any symptoms who work and volunteer outside their home.

The free tests are for people who do not have access to workplace testing through their employer.

This includes the self-employed and people who work for small businesses, for example taxi drivers, independent retailers, and tradespeople such as plumbers and electricians.

The move is part of the council’s symptom-free testing programme, which launched on February 8.

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It began with the police and fire service and was then expanded to include early years workers and childminders as well as council staff in public-facing roles.

Now public-facing workers and volunteers across the county are being invited to get tested once a week.

People can book a free test online and go to one of three locations – King's Centre in Oxford, The Beacon in Wantage and Spiceball Leisure Centre in Banbury.

Data shows that around one in three people with Covid-19 have no symptoms and so regular testing is an important tool to help stop the spread.

The programme is set to help identify and self-isolate those who are unaware they are carrying the virus, which will protect work colleagues, customers and communities alike.

Oxfordshire County Council director of public health Ansaf Azhar

Oxfordshire County Council director of public health Ansaf Azhar

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s director of public health, said that broadening testing will help identify more people who could be spreading the virus without knowing it.

He commented: "I am delighted that we are now able to provide symptom-free testing for public-facing workers and volunteers across the county, who otherwise are unable to access testing through workplace schemes.

"With one in three people with Covid-19 having no symptoms, this programme is essential for those who work outside the home and it will help us more effectively control the virus and stop the spread.

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"I cannot emphasise just how important this testing programme is for our communities, and to us all in our fight against this virus.

"If you need to leave home to work or volunteer, I would strongly encourage you to get a test as soon as possible."

The tests take just 15 minutes using lateral flow devices and involve taking a swab of the back of the throat and inside the nose.

However, Mr Azhar also stressed that these tests do not replace the public health measures in place to stop the spread of infection.

He added: "So, even if you are being tested on a regular basis, you must still make sure you wash your hands regularly, stay two metres apart and wear a face covering."

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