Oxfordshire County Council, in partnership with the county's district and city councils, has launched a new COVID-19 symptom-free testing programme for key workers to help stop the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and vital social care services and ultimately to save lives.
Around one in three people with COVID-19 have no symptoms – regular testing of key workers will help to stop the spread of the virus.
It will help to identify and self-isolate those key workers who don’t know they are carrying the virus. This will crucially protect both workplace colleagues and communities alike.
The rapid spread of the highly infectious new variant of COVID-19 makes testing for those who work outside the home an even greater priority.
The county council is focusing on key workers not already included in the national initiative and initially started with the police and fire service. This was followed by social care workers, early years providers, homelessness and substance misuse support officers, those who work in Ofsted registered early years settings, Ofsted/CQC registered out of school providers and childminders.
From Monday 15 February, the programme is being expanded further for the following council employed staff:
- Trading standards and environmental health officers, the COVID secure team
- Licensing teams and community wardens
- Home to school transport drivers and associated support staff
- Staff who assist with site management of household recycling centres
- Frontline highways staff such as gritter drivers and parking enforcement officers
- Cleaning staff in corporate properties such as adult and children’s centres, operational offices, fire stations etc
- Facilities management staff who run the main buildings such as front of house reception and building management
- Council engineers – who visit council buildings to maintain them and respond to critical issues that arise
- Mobile catering supervisors and managers
- Health and safety officers.
Oxfordshire County Council is inviting the above groups to get tested once a week to help stop the spread of the virus.
To start, you will need to book a test at one of three symptom-free testing facilities within the county through Oxfordshire County Council’s website.
The three sites are:
- Spiceball Leisure Centre in Banbury (OX16 2BW): Open 7am to 7pm
- The Beacon in Wantage (OX12 9BX): Open 9am to 5pm
- King’s Centre in Oxford (OX2 0ES): Open 8.30am to 5.30pm
You need to bring one item as general proof of identity – your driving licence, passport, a utility bill or a council tax bill. We also need you to bring something that proves your work identity – a work ID badge and an email from your employer.
The test will take just 15 minutes and will involve you taking a swab of the back of your throat and inside of your nose. You will give the swab to trained staff at the test centre who will be able to process the test on-site. You will receive results within an hour by text message or by email. This test is known as a lateral flow test.
If the result is positive, you will be told to self-isolate and follow the national guidance. Information, support and advice on self-isolation has been published on the county council’s website or you can download the information as part of a self-isolation support pack.
On the rapid symptom-free testing booking site, you can also get answers to a number of frequently asked questions.
If the result is negative, you must continue to follow social distancing guidelines, wear a mask in public and regularly wash your hands. Even with a negative result, you may still have the virus so please take every precaution.
If at any other point, you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you should cancel your rapid symptom-free test and book a test through the main national system by visiting gov.uk or by calling NHS 111. These tests would take place at the walk-in and drive-through testing sites that are in place across the county, rather than in the symptom-free testing centres.