OLDHAM’S director of public health has sent personal invitation to all businesses to take part in regular coronavirus testing for people without Covid symptoms.

Katrina Stephens says the tests are an important part in the town's continuing attempts to contain, manage and ultimately defeat Coronavirus.

And they will be available to anyone working with the public, anyone working in a shared workplace or who is performing a key worker task who is unable to stay at home.

She said: “Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, testing has been a key feature of managing and containing the spread of the virus.

"Until this point, testing has mainly been available for people with symptoms, undertaken locally at nationally managed sites where a person presents for testing and a swab sample is taken for laboratory analysis, which can take days to come back.

“Oldham - along with other Greater Manchester areas - is part of the national programme to offer regular rapid testing to people with no symptoms.

"In Oldham regular, weekly testing is being offered to people who are at higher risk of coming into contact with the virus (for example due to working in public facing roles or in workplaces with high numbers of staff), as well as settings where the risks of spreading the virus are greatest.

“Rapid tests use an oral/nasal swab, but do not need to be processed by a specialist laboratory and therefore results can be available within 30 minutes – a great advantage in managing our response to Coronavirus.

“The rapid tests have been used in pilot sites to test those with no symptoms (asymptomatic) to look for people who may be carrying and unknowingly passing on the virus, with the aim being to reduce overall infection rates.

"The team leading Oldham’s testing offer are keen to work with your workplace and hope that by doing so it will contribute to the reduction in the spread of Covid- 19.”

Businesses who have been part of the pilot within Oldham have reported many benefits from taking part such as contributing to the overall employee wellbeing, through increased safety in the workplace.

It has also broken the chain of transmission at the earliest opportunity reducing the likelihood of further staff contracting the virus and requiring to isolate along with their contacts.

The following venues are open for testing from Monday, January 18: Shaw Life Long Learning- 6 High St, Shaw, Oldham, OL2 8RQ;Failsworth Town Hall- Oldham Road, Failsworth, M35 0FJ; Oldham Community Leisure Centre - Middleton Road, Oldham, OL9 6AF (Website says: If using SAT NAV use postcode OL9 6EJ); Uppermill Civic Hall- Lee Street, Uppermill, Saddleworth, OL3 6AE.

No appointment is necessary, however but businesses and their staff will need to present identification which confirms their place of work or status as a key worker, for example work identification badge or key work letter.

There will also outreach teams available who would be able to go out large workplaces on a weekly basis and carry out asymptomatic testing. For more information on this e-mail requests to rapidtesting@oldham.gov.uk with the subject field OUTREACH REQUEST.