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Unitas to start COVID-19 testing their workforce, as employers and employees are reminded to get tested regularly

Published: Wednesday, 3rd February 2021

Unitas will start offering lateral flow testing to their employees this week following an appeal from Stoke-on-Trent City Council for businesses across the city to take part in the scheme.

The award-winning housing repairs and maintenance company which has 474 employees will be testing front line operatives initially. Three members of staff have had extensive training to carry out the rapid Covid-19 tests on their colleagues at the company’s Alton House base in Northwood.

Wayne Booth, Director of Unitas said: “Unitas is proud to be part of the lateral flow testing scheme by setting up its own on-site testing facility to regularly test members of the workforce; in particular, those who are deemed high priority by working in tenanted properties or in a care home setting. 

“The weekly testing will not only help to identify colleagues who have the virus and need to self-isolate, but also puts their minds at rest knowing that they are not spreading it at home and within the community. We want to do whatever we can to help drive down the infection rates within our great city.”

Larger businesses in Stoke-on-Trent like Unitas still have the opportunity to roll out Covid-19 testing for their employees. So far 10 local businesses have signed up to the scheme. By joining the city council programme businesses in the city will be playing a key role in protecting their workforce and the wider community. Testing people without symptoms can help to identify cases quickly and help break the chain of transmission.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “It is fantastic to see that Unitas are now offering lateral flow testing to their staff on a weekly basis. Unitas are playing a key role in protecting their staff as many are carrying out vital emergency repairs and maintenance work across the city.

“Naturally as we are in a national lockdown, the ways the virus is spreading has been reduced. Although we encourage people to work from home, we know not everyone can. By encouraging and facilitating businesses that still have staff in the workplace to take up lateral flow testing, cases can be identified quickly and large outbreaks can be avoided. We have seen that places of work, even with safety measures in place, are settings where the virus is transmitted. I would encourage more businesses to either sign up or encourage employees to go to our community testing venues to get tested, to help protect essential services and businesses.”

This comes as latest figures show that the seven-day rate of coronavirus cases in the city is 250.4 per 100,000 people, for the week 22 January to 28 January. This figure is down 25.9 per cent on the previous seven days. The percentage of people who have had a test and tested positive has also fallen to 9.8 per cent.

Four more community testing venues will open next week at Weston Coyney Village Hall, Florence Sports and Social Club, Sneyd Green Community Hall and Christ Church in Tunstall. Residents who live up to two miles away from the venues are urged to book a test regularly going forward.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “This week marks a year since we received news of the first Covid-19 case in the city. Despite the great news about the vaccination rollout, testing is still our best defence against the virus. If you are leaving your house to go to work, to visit the supermarket or to see somebody in your support or childcare bubble, book a test regularly. Just like we all now wear face coverings and wash our hands, getting tested is something that we all need to do once a week. Its takes less than five minutes to do the test and you will have your result within the hour.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s contact tracing team are continuing to reach out to residents across the city that have tested positive for Covid-19 to reinforce the guidance and advice around self-isolation, and also to check-in with and support people as they isolate.

Contact tracers work seven days a week to support people who have tested positive, including contacting between 300-400 people over the weekend periods. The council has seen a marked increase in the number of cases successfully contacted, which is now at more than 80 per cent.

Council leader Abi Brown continues: “The impact of this local work is now becoming evident in the gradually reducing number of new cases of Covid-19 in the city. It’s great to also see our Covid stewards working hard alongside the contact tracing team to make welfare visits to those the team cannot reach via telephone. Teams are checking on resident’s well-being and providing the right dedicated support to them where needed.”

For the latest information on council services and support during the coronavirus, and frequently asked questions, please visit www.stoke.gov.uk/coronavirus. For latest health advice on the coronavirus, please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus, and for further information on the virus visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated. If residents have symptoms, please get tested. All residents must continue to follow the guidance of wash hands, cover face and make space.

For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.

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For all media enquiries please contact Isabel Hodgkinson in the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 236703.

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