Children in Cornwall are being reminded to do a COVID test before they return to secondary school next week.
Cornwall Council Public Health says asymptomatic testing, which was introduced by the Department for Education when schools returned earlier this year, helps to identify cases early and helps to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Bethan Page from Public Health Cornwall said: “Schools are big places, with lots and lots of people and potentially lots of contacts; so, it is a great place to spread infection without realising.
“There are lots of things in place to minimise this, not any of them perfect on their own but when combined they work together to keep environments as safe as possible: Testing, washing hands , giving space and face coverings where appropriate are all really good tools.
“Evidence has shown us that a third of COVID cases are asymptomatic, which means they won’t have any symptoms at all. It is really important young people get back into testing twice a week, especially before returning to school after half term.”
School staff and children from year 7 upwards can use lateral flow tests, which involve taking a swab of the nose and throat. The sample is put in a tube of liquid and gives a result within 30 minutes.
Testing is voluntary and children will only be tested if a parent or carer gives consent. Pupils will not be stopped from returning to school if they do not take part.
Staff or pupils who test positive should self-isolate. If the test is done at home, they should also book a PCR test at a local test centre to confirm the result.
Bethan continued: “Testing is not a silver bullet and we know it is voluntary, but we need to do all we can to keep COVID infections as low as possible. And if you test positive, it is important you self-isolate and notify your school.”
Part of the package to keep schools safe is also about parents of school age children testing twice weekly to prevent infection getting to school.
Everyone over the age of 18 who has no Covid-19 symptoms is being reminded to take twice-weekly rapid tests with Lateral Flow Devices (LFD).
The test kits are easy to use and require people to simply swab their nose and throat and then wait 30 minutes for a result, which they register with NHS Test & Trace through an app or website.
One in three people with the virus show no symptoms meaning they go about their daily lives unaware they are spreading it.
Anyone who tests positive with an LFT must self-isolate immediately and arrange to have a confirmatory PCR test by visiting www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or calling 119