Testing is being used by workplaces across the UK in an effort to keep them safe and operational, but how do you test staff for Covid-19?
How to test staff for Covid-19
Lateral flow antigen tests (Rapid COVID-19 Ag Antigen Test) are easy to administer on-site and can identify a current Covid-19 infection within 15 minutes. This means that if an individual tests positive, they can be immediately removed from the workplace to begin self-isolating. Other staff members can also be identified if they have come into contact with the infected person, further safeguarding employees and limiting any additional spread of the virus.
If a staff member gets a negative result, they don’t need to self-isolate as long as they feel well and no other member of their household or support bubble has symptoms or has tested positive.
As well as being quick and easy to use, another advantage of the lateral flow tests is that they can be performed by the individual themself, further limiting any interaction with others and thus any potential spread of the virus. The test requires samples to be taken from the nose and throat using swabs. The swabs are then dipped in a special solution, which is then dropped onto a plastic cassette, similar to a pregnancy test. The result appears within 15 minutes.
The lateral flow antigen test can also identify the new variant of Covid-19 – VUI 202012/01. This is reported to be spreading up to 70% faster than the original version.
Incorporating an extra 15 minutes into the start of each working day could pay dividends when an asymptomatic carrier is identified and therefore prevented from infecting other members of your workforce.
Another way to test staff for Covid-19 is PCR testing. This ‘gold standard’ test requires back-to-lab analysis. The workplace Covid-19 PCR test can be taken by the employee themself or overseen by a company nurse or occupational health professional. Again, nasal and throat samples need to be collected using swabs. The samples are then sent back to the laboratory, where they are processed using the latest, cutting-edge automated PCR extraction methods. Results are returned within 1–2 days. This detailed analysis means that PCR tests can pick up some infections that lateral flow tests can’t, particularly in the early stages of infection.
With regular on-site Covid-19 testing, a business can reassure its employees, reduce absenteeism due to unnecessary self-isolation, ensure only healthy staff remain on-site, and demonstrate to stakeholders that it is fit to operate.
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