A programme of regular testing has launched for service critical staff at Northern Ireland’s public transport operator Translink, as part of the continuing drive to increase the availability of asymptomatic testing.
Around one in three people who are infected with Covid-19 have no symptoms so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly and thus assisting in breaking chains of transmission of infection.
Translink has received a supply of lateral flow tests as part of the national programme which will enable increased testing across a range of sectors in Northern Ireland including national critical infrastructure. The testing programme at Translink is supported by both the Health Minister Robin Swann, and Minister for Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon. It is anticipated that the testing programme will be rolled out to other Translink staff following this first stage.
Minister for Health Robin Swann: “I welcome the announcement that testing has begun among Translink staff. Expansion of our asymptomatic testing programme will enable targeted testing for communities, businesses and emergency services across Northern Ireland.
“The public transport system has been vital in getting our frontline workers to their places of work throughout this pandemic. I am glad to see our testing programme extended to allow for regular testing of these key workers. Testing will continue to play a key part in tackling COVID-19.”
Minister for Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon said: “Throughout this pandemic Translink staff have been working hard in challenging conditions to keep our essential services running and to support our health service in responding to COVID-19. It is as a result of their efforts and selflessness that our public transport services have continued to run to allow our key workers to access their workplace and services. I welcome the decision to include Translink staff in this testing programme which will help support the fight against the virus and am keen to see this rolled out to include other key workers as quickly as possible.”
Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway said: “Safety is always our first priority. This testing is important as an additional measure to help us ensure the safety of our staff and our passengers and to continue to safely deliver bus and train services across Northern Ireland. This programme of regular testing will operate alongside the range of safety measures we currently have in place, including social distancing, transmission management measures and enhanced cleaning regimes (using the latest cleaning technology and long-lasting anti-viral disinfectant) to help ensure the safety of our fleet and our staff and passengers.”
Notes to editors:
- Extensive clinical evaluation from Public Health England and the University of Oxford show lateral flow tests are specific and sensitive enough to be deployed for mass testing, including for asymptomatic people. The Oxford University and Public Health evaluation is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/oxford-university-and-phe-confirm-high-sensitivity-of-lateral-flow-tests.
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