Rapid community testing teams are being deployed to hot spots throughout Norfolk, helping to stem the spread of Covid-19 in the county.

The new Lateral Flow Response Team, led by the Norse Group, is responsible for setting up testing units which are capable of turning around results in just 30 minutes, helping to quickly identify asymptomatic cases.

With the ability to mobilise temporary, small testing hubs within 48 hours, the team can be dispatched to hot spot areas where there is concern around a community outbreak or a higher rate of transmission.

The new rapid testing programme is being delivered on behalf of Norfolk County Council and Public Health England and is designed to complement wider coronavirus testing, helping to save lives.

By helping to break the chain of transmission, the programme has already made a significant impact, with more than 11,000 tests conducted at 59 sites across Norfolk through to mid-April.

The lateral flow tests give an indication as to whether a person is potentially Covid-positive, with results ready within half-an-hour of the self-administered nasal and throat swabs being provided.

People returning a positive result are then directed to self-isolate and book a confirmatory PCR test – which offers much greater levels of accuracy – at the larger county testing sites.

Steve Atkins, Norse Project Manager, explained: “Lateral flow tests are around 77% accurate in the results they offer, so they are by no means the only test people will require.

“The aim is to find those who have Covid but are without symptoms, perhaps in a location where we know lots of other people have tested positive, and so there is a very real risk of increased community transmission.

“We have all seen that there is no one solution to stemming the spread of this virus, but our rapid response teams are another vital tool to give us a continued focus.”

Operating five-days-a-week, seven separate teams from Norse’s Total Facilities Management division will continue to be dispatched to set up the short-term community hubs, with the capacity to test up to 80 individuals per day, in each location.

The large-scale community testing programme is the latest initiative which the Norse Group has worked on in partnership with Public Health England and Norfolk County Council, in addition to continuing to deliver emergency personal protective equipment (PPE) and food parcels.

Steve and his teams have been instrumental in overseeing the rollout of each of these programmes.

“In the face of this pandemic, we’re keen to do whatever we can to support the local and national efforts,” he said.

“Our staff have undertaken training to support people with the self-administered tests, and we are working closely with local and public health authorities, to ensure we deliver an effective, targeted response.”

Nicola Holden, Commercial Director for Norse Total Facilities Management (TFM), said: “We are honoured to be part of this important scheme, and our team is well-equipped and prepared for the challenge. This type of work plays to our capability to respond quickly and effectively to not only set up and run testing sites, but to set up a whole new service in a matter of weeks from commission.”