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Brent leads the way in COVID-19 testing for people without symptoms in high-contact jobs

15 July 2020

The UK’s first hyper-local COVID-19 testing site in Harlesden is now offering tests to people without symptoms who work in high-contact professions, such as taxi drivers, cleaners and people working in shops and restaurants.

This form of testing for people who are showing no symptoms, known as asymptomatic testing, is crucial given that 67% of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 reported having no symptoms on the day of their test. Many people may have COVID-19 but not experience any symptoms at all but can still pass the virus onto others.

Employees working in high-contact professions are being prioritised because they are more likely to have frequent contact with other people, in roles where it may be difficult to socially distance.

This will include a select group of staff living or working in and around Harlesden, such as taxi drivers, cleaners and retail assistants, to understand how people in the community working in these roles are affected by the virus.

Harlesden is one of just four testing sites in England taking part in this new pilot scheme, as Brent Council works closely with the Department for Health and Social Care. Harlesden is an area which has been hit hard by COVID-19, due to factors such as diversity, inequality and the fact that many local residents are working in high-contact roles. It’s hoped this pilot will help more people know if they have the virus and therefore take the necessary steps to contain it.

Those who test positive through targeted asymptomatic testing will need to self-isolate as normal and follow national guidance. Positive results will be shared with NHS Test and Trace so that recent contacts can be contacted and advised to self-isolate in order to prevent further spread of the virus.

Leader of Brent Council, Cllr Muhammed Butt said:

“Despite the increased risk of infection, staying at home was not an option for residents in frontline roles or those struggling from pay cheque to pay cheque.

“These frontline workers from our bus drivers to our shop staff, have all made enormous sacrifices to keep Brent open and help continue our way of life throughout the pandemic.

“It is vital that we protect these civic heroes and I’m proud that Brent is leading the way nationally, in screening those who may not have symptoms, but could still pose a risk to others”.

Employees who work in the following professions are eligible for asymptomatic testing:

  • Taxi and bus drivers
  • Security guards
  • Sales and retail assistants
  • Cleaners and domestics
  • Dental practitioners, dental nurses and dental technicians
  • Prison officers and residential wardens
  • Veterinary nurses
  • Opticians
  • Pharmacists
  • Pharmaceutical technicians
  • Undertakers, mortuary and crematorium assistants

Employees can book a test either through the national portal or through the council’s contact centre by calling 020 8937 4440 between 9am-5pm, any day of the week.

The Harlesden testing site continues to offer tests for residents with symptoms of COVID-19, as long as they can travel to the test site on foot or by motorcycle or bicycle and don’t need to use public transport, can wear a face covering and agree to adhere to social distancing at all times, when travelling to and from the site.

Find out more about the Harlesden walk-through testing site.