RAPID testing is set to launch on the Isle of Wight next week in a bid to drive down coronavirus transmission rates.

People who do not have Covid-19 symptoms and cannot work from home will soon be able to book a free test, thanks to the opening of new community test sites in Newport, Ryde and Sandown.

Around one in three people with Covid have no symptoms, so could be spreading the disease without knowing it.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean discovering positive cases quicker, enabling people to self-isolate and prevent further spread of the virus.

The rapid turnaround lateral flow tests, supplied by NHS Test and Trace, are aimed at those who have to leave home to attend work, such as taxi and bus drivers, retail workers, building or maintenance workers.

They are also for people who are in contact with others who are vulnerable, such as carers, and who are not covered by other programmes.

Isle of Wight County Press: Isle of Wight Council leader, Cllr Dave Stewart.Isle of Wight Council leader, Cllr Dave Stewart.

Isle of Wight Council leader, Cllr Dave Stewart, said: "While everyone should be staying at home as much as possible, there are some residents who have a legitimate need to be out and about because they cannot work from home.

"By offering free testing to these people, we will be able to quickly identify anyone who may be unknowingly passing the virus on to others.

"They can then self-isolate immediately, helping to safeguard the workforce and provide business continuity.

Isle of Wight County Press:

"It is important for businesses to keep their workplace safe by encouraging staff to attend these tests regularly.

"Testing is quick, simple and free and will protect lives and livelihoods on the Island.

"It is also important to stress that taking the test — even if the result is negative — does not discount the need to continue following national guidance around social distancing, wearing a face covering and washing your hands properly and regularly.

"These simple steps are still vital in preventing the transmission of the virus."

Isle of Wight County Press:

The tests do not require a laboratory to process and usually provide results within 30 minutes.

They involve taking a swab inside the nose and throat (tonsils), using a long cotton bud. People will do the swab themselves in booths, which will be thoroughly cleaned after each use.

Testing will be available at the following locations, with further sites due to be announced in due course:

  • County Hall, High Street, Newport.
  • The Heights Leisure Centre, Broadway, Sandown.
  • The Learning and Development Centre, Westridge, Brading Road, Ryde.

Isle of Wight County Press: County Hall, one of the new sites for rapid Covid-19 testing.County Hall, one of the new sites for rapid Covid-19 testing.

Tests must be booked in advanced and further details will be published on Monday on how to do this.

Simon Bryant, the council's director of public health, said: "This is yet another tool to help us all continue to work together to break the transmission of Covid-19.

"The new centres will make it even easier to get tested so, if you are out because you cannot work from home, then please take the opportunity to book a test.

Isle of Wight County Press: Simon Bryant, the Isle of Wight Council's director of public health.Simon Bryant, the Isle of Wight Council's director of public health.

"Please, if you own a business, encourage your staff to book twice weekly community tests and help keep the Island safe."

All efforts to find people without symptoms work hand in hand with the existing free testing service for those with symptoms.

Anyone with one or more of these symptoms — a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste — should isolate and book a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. Home test kits are also available.

The testing site for people who are symptomatic is located at Newclose County Cricket Ground, Blackwater Road, Newport.

Workplace coronavirus testing is also available to businesses, with staff who cannot work from home during lockdown.

Companies with 50 or more employees can register online for workplace coronavirus tests.