Regular rapid Covid-19 testing for frontline workers has launched this week in a bid to stem the dramatic rise in cases across the region.
The ten councils across Greater Manchester are working with the army and volunteers at local centres to offer weekly rapid lateral flow tests which give results within an hour.
Across the country, around one in three people who contract Covid-19 show no symptoms and this new scheme is intended to find and isolate those people.
Councillor Bev Craig, Executive Member for Adult Health and Wellbeing at Manchester City Council said: “It will bring more confidence, and allow us to catch cases more quickly, as well as helping to keep vital services running that this city depends on.”
The tests are free and offered seven days a week to account for shift patterns. Workers who are eligible should visit their local authority’s website to find out how to book.
Anyone testing positive from the rapid test will have to self-isolate and book a follow-up lab-based test to confirm the result.
Those with Covid-19 symptoms are asked not to attend and to instead book a test via the NHS website or by calling 119.
Public facing workers are being urged to take up this offer across region to protect themselves and others.
Councillor Daalat Ali, cabinet member at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “It’s so important that our frontline workers take this up. They’ve done so much for the borough; this testing service is for them and to help protect them.”
The scheme comes after case rates in Greater Manchester more than doubled in the two weeks to January 8, from 194 to 449 per 100,000.
Weekly Covid-19 hospital admissions almost doubled in the two weeks to January 11 from 109 to 204.
Paul Dennett, Salford City Mayor, said: “Together with the mass roll out of the vaccine, testing is a really important part of the jigsaw to getting our way out of this pandemic.
“This is targeted testing at scale, so we’re intentionally targeting people who are most at risk of exposure to the virus because they still need to go out to work such as teachers, early year practitioners, care workers visiting people in their homes, taxi drivers, and essential retail.”
Across the country, over 3 million have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
The government insists it is on track to reach the 14 million elderly and most vulnerable by the middle of February.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Greater Manchester is actually in a really strong position in terms of the infrastructure that’s now in place both in terms of testing and vaccination.
“At some point, we need to move the debate back onto test and trace, because that issue can’t just look like it’s gone.
“That is a critical part of the solution as we go into the rest of 2021.”