Norse Group’s Lateral Flow Response Team has performed a key role in the fight against Covid-19 over the past 12 months by carrying out more than 35,000 vital tests across Norfolk.

The programme, delivered on behalf of Norfolk County Council and Public Health, aims to identify those with the virus who are asymptomatic and therefore unaware they are infectious.

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

Operational Support Manager at Norse Commercial Services, Stuart Bedford, who heads up the District Asymptomatic Testing Service (DATS), said it had played an essential part in helping to stem the spread of Covid-19 in Norfolk.

“More than 75 dedicated members of staff have work tirelessly from mobile units at over 150 sites, observing the lateral flow tests (LFTs) as they are carried out and delivering results in just 10 minutes,” he said.

“These drop-in testing units, within four buses and six mobile testing vans, have been open to any member of the public, giving people access to vital tests and helping to identify those who are asymptomatic.

“Our team has done a fantastic job under some very difficult circumstances: going out every day, come rain or shine, to engage with the public and carry out essential work with great professionalism.”

Established in January 2021 and expected to continue at least until March 2022, the service identified an average of three to six positive cases every week over the course of the year.

The highest number of positive cases (32) was recorded in the week before Christmas.

Nicola Holden, Commercial Director at Norse Commercial Services, said the programme had been a resounding success and she commended Stuart and his team on their excellent work.

“Without this service many positive cases of Covid-19 would undoubtedly have been missed and many members of the public would have unwittingly spread the virus,” she said.

“DATS has been agile, responsive and efficient and is a very good example of how well we at Norse are able to work in partnership with Norfolk County Council.”

In addition to setting up and managing the mobile LFT teams, Norse’s role in the battle against Covid-19 has seen it oversee the mass distribution of PPE and emergency food parcels and provide a mobile vaccination service.

Daniel Vanstone, Group Director of Operations at Norse, said: “Norse has been a key player in the fight against Covid in Norfolk, by stepping in to take on a range of vital roles, including carrying out mobile testing.

“I would like to thank all those involved as we continue to do our part in the battle against the virus.”
Peter Lomas, of Norfolk County Council’s Public Health Community Testing Team, said: “COVID-19 testing has been key to the pandemic response in Norfolk, and thanks to the partnership between Norfolk County Council and Norse we’ve seen a truly staggering number of observed asymptomatic tests undertaken in 2021.

“The DATS service has allowed us to act swiftly to respond in areas of high case rates, as well as testing the general public, event attendees and those in targeted settings – helping to break chains of transmission and helping people to know their COVID-19 status.

“Without the diligent and professional service delivery of the DATS Team, the virus would have had a much greater opportunity to spread throughout Norfolk.

“Thank you to the DATS team, management colleagues, support staff and Norfolk district, borough and city council partners who have enabled this testing to happen and thank you too to everyone who has come to a DATS site to be tested over the course of the year.”