From today, Thursday 1 April, anyone over the age of 16 in Surrey can book in for a free rapid test at any of the 26 symptom-free test sites across the county. Alongside vaccination, symptom-free testing is one of the most important parts of the government’s lockdown exit strategy. Widening the eligibility of rapid lateral flow tests to everyone over the age of 16 means that Surrey residents can keep their friends and families safe from infection as they start to meet up within the guidelines.
Around one in three people who are infected with COVID-19 have no symptoms, so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Now that the rule of 6 applies to meeting up outdoors, broadening testing is an important way of finding positive cases who have no symptoms – to ensure they isolate during their infectious period, and break the chains of transmission.
Ruth Hutchinson, Surrey’s Director of Public Health said: “It’s a huge boost for us all to be able to meet up outdoors in groups of six or less. Now that we can see friends and family within the guidelines, symptom-free testing is the most effective way of keeping them safe.
“Anyone over age of 16 in Surrey can book in for regular symptom-free tests to give them that peace of mind. Even if you have been vaccinated there is still a chance you could get or spread Coronavirus – so you should still get tested regularly.
“COVID rates are much lower than they have been, but we can’t be complacent as we all know how quickly that can change. And remember, the government has been very clear that it will be data, not dates, that will ensure we reach the next stages of the Roadmap.
“It’s also important for people to understand that if they have symptoms, they must not book in for a symptom-free test. They should book through NHS.uk or by calling 119. Tests for symptomatic people are carried out at different sites.
“Thank you to everyone in Surrey for your tremendous efforts over the past year to keep this virus at bay. We still need to keep going with Hands, Face, Space and fresh air. Let’s continue working together to keep Surrey Safe.”
Rapid-turnaround lateral flow tests provide results usually within half an hour. People will receive alerts via Test and Trace text message and email, within half an hour.
All efforts to find people without symptoms work hand-in-hand with the existing free testing service for those with symptoms. Anyone with one or more of these symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste – should book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
The symptom-free testing centres are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm, and can be booked via the booking portal on the Surrey County Council website. Community pharmacies will be offering tests during their normal opening hours.