“Testing for coronavirus is still a vital and very real necessity right now, especially if you’re in contact with people through the work you do,” warns Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon.
“Since the vaccine programme has started to roll out, and now that the Prime Minister is describing a route out of restrictions, people’s attitude towards coronavirus is understandably changing – we’re looking forward to a time without restrictions when we can get on with our pre-COVID lives and professions.
“The rules that we in Devon have done so well to follow since last year, and which have kept our case numbers to one of lowest in the country and have undoubtedly saved lives, are I fear becoming less of a priority in some people’s minds.
“But testing and self-isolating when a person develops symptoms of coronavirus is as important today as it always has been. And it will continue to be so for some time.
“Community testing for those whose work puts them in contact with others – trades people, retail workers, drivers for example – is absolutely vital for us to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“We must not let the vaccine, and the hope it brings, persuade us that these other measures are no longer necessary. They are.
“The vaccine is part of our way out of coronavirus. But not on its own or in isolation of the other prevention measures.
“As the vaccine moves down through the priority groups, even those who have had their jab or jabs still need to follow the rules.
“People are still advised to stay at home as much as possible. If the nature of their work does not allow that, they need to be regularly tested to identify whether they have coronavirus, and if so, to self-isolate. That’s where rapid community testing comes in, with results back within the hour, allowing people to get on with their day while still following the public health measures.
“Most of the transmission in Devon is within the younger working age population. And we know that only one in three people with coronavirus shows symptoms, and therefore people will be spreading the virus unknowingly.
“I want to urge all workers who are in contact with others to use community testing twice a week while they are showing no symptoms of having the virus.
“And I appreciate fully the dilemma that poses especially to self-employed trade workers who rely on their day to day business to pay the bills.
“But only by stopping contact between people with the virus and others, will we halt the spread of coronavirus.
“And if we halt the spread through regular testing – as well as social distancing, wearing our face coverings when indoors in public places and washing our hands regularly – and leave the vaccine to keep us from becoming really unwell should we get the virus, that’s how we beat this.”
To find out more about community testing in Devon visit devon.cc/testing.