COMMUNITY testing is to be rolled out in Redcar and Cleveland Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced yesterday.

Community asymptomatic testing is a major new tool which helps identify and isolate individuals who have Covid-19 but do not have symptoms and may inadvertently be spreading the virus. 

Alongside the deployment of tests to NHS front-line staff, social care and other critical settings, testing of asymptomatic individuals within the community can help suppress Covid-19 and offer communities a direct route out of the toughest restrictions.

This builds on the pilots of community testing which are taking place in places like Liverpool. 

Since the Liverpool pilot began, over 200,000 people have been tested, and this testing has formed an important part of the strategy that has helped to significantly reduce prevalence there.

Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar, said: "As cases continue to fall across Redcar and Cleveland, community testing will help us identify infected people much quicker, especially those who do not present with symptoms.

"Liverpool was the first UK city to trial this kind of testing and as a result it was also the first area in the UK to successfully move from Tier 3 restrictions to Tier 2 prior to the most recent national lockdown."

Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: “This is a hugely positive step, and I strongly hope we secure equivalent provision for Middlesbrough in the days ahead. 

"We need to use every tool in our arsenal to defeat this dreadful virus. 

"Testing not only saves lives, it offers our best chance of keeping as much of society open as possible between now and the culmination of the vaccination programme that’s now underway.”

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “I’m delighted Redcar and Cleveland have joined our community testing programme. 

"With one in three people infected not showing symptoms, these lateral flow tests will help us route out the virus wherever it is and help us drive down prevalence in Redcar and Cleveland.

“Along with the Council, Simon and Jacob have been instrumental in making this happen, and their efforts throughout this pandemic have been incredible.”