New rapid coronavirus tests to be rolled out in Essex and Milton Keynes

Covid-19 swab tests for people who do not have symptoms are being rolled out from tomorrow in parts of the Anglia region.

It's part of a drive by the Government to expand testing for people who cannot work from home.

Local authorities will be encourage to take part to try to find people who could be carrying the virus without knowing.

131 local authorities have signed up to community testing to date, with 107 already having started testing in their communities.

Many of these, including Essex and Milton Keynes, are focusing on testing of critical workers and those who must leave home for essential reasons.

The free PCR tests for people in Tendring can be picked up from Clacton Leisure Centre. They then take the test, before dropping it back to the centre to be sent off for processing, with no appointment needed.

It's part of a joint programme with Essex County Council and the Department for Health and Social Care, and aimed at people without symptoms who cannot work from home, and their families, provided they live or work in the Tendring district.

However others without symptoms will not be prevented from taking a test.

People without coronavirus symptoms and who cannot work from home are to be prioritised for quick turnaround tests made available to every local authority.

Clacton Leisure Centre will be open from 9am-5pm weekdays, and 9am-12pm weekends, for people to collect and drop-off tests. People are reminded to observe social distancing and wear a mask while on the site.

Anyone who has Covid-19 symptoms - a high temperature, new or continuous cough, or a loss or change of taste or smell - or who is isolating should not go to the centre, but instead apply for a postal test or visit an established drive-thru testing site.

People should also not have a test if they have previously tested positive via a PCR test in the last 12 weeks, as this can give a false result.

Lynda McWilliams, Tendring District Council (TDC) Cabinet Member for Partnerships, said the increased testing will help prevent and reduce transmission of Covid-19 in the community.

The new tests will be rolled out at Clacton Leisure Centre from Monday January 11 Credit: ITV Anglia

"Community testing means anyone can get a free test - particularly those who still need to go into work - and play their part in keeping others safe, and together we can beat this virus.

"If you do test positive it is so important to self-isolate so we can stop Covid-19 from spreading."

An initial batch of 5,000 tests has been sent to TDC, and is expected more will follow. Other areas of Essex are also expected to take part.

The test involves a swab from the nose and mouth, which people then package up to return to the centre to be couriered to a lab for analysis. People must register their details online, following the instructions provided with the test, and results are then sent to them using these details.

Results may take up to five working days to be sent through.

Rapid, regular testing for people without symptoms of COVID19 will be made available across the country from this week, with the eligibility of the community testing programme expanded to cover all 317 local authorities.

Local authorities will be encouraged to target testing at people who are unable to work from home during the national lockdown.

Expansion of asymptomatic testing will identify more positive cases of COVID19 and ensure those infected isolate, protecting those who cannot work from home and our vital services. This programme is crucial given that around one in three people have coronavirus without displaying any symptoms.

The single most important action we can all take to protect the NHS and save lives, is to stay at home.