Adults in England could soon be asked to test themselves for Covid twice a week
The Government is set to launch an advertising campaign which will encourage people to “play their part” by regularly testing themselves for the virus.
More regular testing is regarded as a key to avoiding further national lockdowns. Testing chiefs hope that by isolating more infectious people without symptoms, alongside vaccinations, that cases of the virus could drop to low levels by the summer.
Twice weekly testing for students
The Government previously announced that households and bubbles of pupils, students and staff of schools, nurseries and colleges will be able to have access to regular rapid lateral flow testing.
Secondary school pupils and college students will be asked to undertake twice weekly tests using a home test kit provided by their school or college, with all results reported to the NHS Test and Trace, either online or by telephone.
Teaching and non-teaching staff working in these environments should also take twice weekly tests.
You can collect two packs of home test kits at a local collection point, with each pack containing seven tests.
Anyone over 18 can collect these tests, with most collection points open from 1:30pm to 7pm. You don’t need an appointment to collect the tests.
You can find your nearest home test kit collection point via the Government website.
Sewage monitoring detects Covid-19
As well as testing, analysing sewage for traces of coronavirus has helped officials be able to spot spikes in Covid-19 cases in areas where relatively few people are being tested, according to the Environmental Department (Defra).
Officials have said that the programme to analyse sewage for traces of Covid-19 is being used to provide an early warning for local outbreaks.
The scheme was first announced in June last year, and according to Defra, is successful in detecting fragments of genetic material from the virus in wastewater.
The data from this testing, which has been rolled out to more than 90 waste water treatment sites across the UK, is shared with the Joint Biosecurity Centre as part of NHS Test and Trace.
Fragments of the virus are passed out of people’s bodies when they use the toilet, and the detection of the material, which isn’t infectious, can indicate when a local community is experiencing a spike in cases.
Officials said that the results of the testing can give local health teams a clearer idea of infection rates by identifying where there are high numbers - particularly of asymptomatic carriers, and people before they start showing symptoms.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This initiative is just one example of how we are working across government and with local partners to find innovative, new ways to track the outbreak, slow the spread of the virus and save lives.
“Monitoring and sampling wastewater offers another tool to help us identify outbreaks early on - helping NHS Test and Trace and local authorities target hotspots quickly and effectively.”