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‘If the price of a normal life is doing an easy Covid test, I’m happy’


THIS is UK Government advice relating to England, Scotland and Wales only.

Testing, testing – it’s as easy as one, two, three. And, along with the vaccination rollout, tests are a vital weapon in defeating Covid-19.

 Clean sweep ... make sure you sanitise well before doing a rapid Covid test

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Clean sweep … make sure you sanitise well before doing a rapid Covid test

That’s why parents and people who can’t work from home are being asked to take part in the UK Government’s rapid testing programme, designed to break the invisible chains of transmission caused by the one in three people with Covid with no symptoms.

“If the price of a normal life is doing an easy test a couple of times a week, I’m happy,” says Jo Drake, mum to five-year-old Ted. With husband Tom, Jo’s been taking rapid Covid-19 tests since March 8, when Ted returned to St Anne’s Fulshaw CE Primary in Wilmslow, Cheshire.

In secondary schools, kids can test themselves, but not primary schools: “Imagine trying to put a swab up a five-year-old’s nose!” Jo laughs.

But if Covid is in the household his parents’ tests should pick it up, and that will help protect the school and the wider community, including two-year-old sister Zara’s nursery and Ted’s grandparents, the family’s childcare bubble.

Regular rapid Covid-19 testing is a fast and easy way to find out if you have coronavirus.

 Staying on the safe side ... mum Jo with kids Ted and Zara

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Staying on the safe side … mum Jo with kids Ted and Zara

As vaccines are rolled out, testing like this will help find cases among individuals with no symptoms; these account for around one in three people infected with Covid-19. They could be spreading it without knowing, so testing twice a week will help avoid this.

These tests are now available to parents and support bubbles of schoolchildren and those who can’t work from home. They are easy and give results in around 30 minutes.

Whatever the result – negative, positive or even void – you should report it at gov.uk/report-covid19-result, or call 119.

Getting into the rapid testing programme is simple, says Jo, 35, a PR consultant.

“The school gave me a direct link to the UK Government website, which showed me the nearest test centre with stocks of tests,” she says. “We drove to collect them and were given four boxes of seven.”

Now Jo takes a test on Wednesday mornings, when Zara’s at nursery. And on Saturdays she and Tom, 39, a company director, grab ten minutes each in front of the bathroom mirror.

“The first one took a bit of concentration, but I’m on my fourth now and it’s automatic,” Jo says. “You wait half an hour for the result; then log it on the Government website using the code on the back of the test.”

From socially distanced chats with other parents at the school gates, Jo reckons that everyone is committed to the testing programme.

“We each have a role to play in protecting the school,” she says. “There were several burst bubbles before Christmas and it would feel unfair if that happened again when household testing could prevent it.

“I want Ted to be at school – he needs imaginative play and I can’t provide that in the way another five-year-old can. Now that school’s back, he’s excited and full of chat.”

Jo and her family will now stick to the rapid testing programme through Easter and beyond – however long it takes. So, if you’re eligible, go with the (lateral) flow and take the test.

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