Rapid Covid-19 testing is being piloted by several Wolverhampton businesses to help keep their staff, contractors and customers safe from the virus.

They include Ansaldo Nuclear Limited, which has set up facilities at its Spring Road site which will enable it to carry out weekly testing of people without symptoms of the virus. A total of 79 tests were completed during a pilot among staff on Thursday (14 January), with all employees testing negative for Covid-19.

Ansaldo Nuclear will begin regular testing of all staff who are not able to work from home, as well as visitors and contractors, this week.

Keith Roeton from Ansaldo Nuclear said: "We have implemented stringent control measures to protect our workforce right from the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and gone above and beyond Government guidance.

“Our 200 staff are one of our greatest assets and their commitment has ensured the business has remained operational during the Covid-19 pandemic. We want to do everything we can to keep them safe and place great importance on promoting health and safety at work.

"We also realise the importance of identifying asymptomatic people who are unknowingly spreading the virus, not only around the workplace but also the general population. 

“We are therefore delighted to work with the City of Wolverhampton Council to introduce routine testing for our staff who cannot work from home at this time.

"We completed the first round of testing on Thursday; thankfully all the tests came back negative but we have already seen the benefits that it will bring, both to our workforce and to the NHS by helping to reduce the spread of the virus as and when positive cases are found.

"We plan to continue testing our employees, visitors and contractors on a weekly basis and would encourage all other business to follow suit in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic." 

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "When it comes to the safety of employees who need to be physically in work at this time, ensuring they are able to practice social distancing and are provided with the necessary PPE is a great start.

"However, we're helping businesses to go one step further by enabling them to offer staff who cannot work from home routine rapid Covid-19 testing to check whether or not they have the virus.

"It's great to see that Ansaldo Nuclear has embraced the opportunity to provide routine testing to its staff and I am pleased that several more businesses will be taking part in pilot testing in the coming weeks.

“I would urge others to get in touch with our public health team to discuss the possibility of utilising rapid testing in their workplaces."

Rapid testing, which uses lateral flow test technology to provide results in under an hour, can identify cases in people who don't have any symptoms of the virus but who could still be infectious. Anyone who tests positive is then able to self-isolate to prevent the spread of the virus to others. 

To express an interest in workplace testing, businesses are invited to email lft@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Anyone without symptoms is reminded they can get a free test at one of Wolverhampton’s 4 public rapid test centres – the Civic Centre (open Monday-Friday, 8am-7pm and Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 6pm); the Jamia Masjid Bilal on Newhampton Road West (10am to 6.30pm daily); St Joseph’s Church, Willenhall Road (Monday-Friday, 2pm to 6pm) and Pendeford Library (Monday-Friday, 10am to 4pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 6pm). Please note, the Civic Centre is closed this Sunday (24 January) for essential maintenance.

Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19, which include a fever, a new continuous cough or a change to the sense of taste or smell, must immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test by visiting GOV.UK or calling 119.

Ansaldo Nuclear LTD engineers unique machinery and components for nuclear decommissioning, new build and defence markets and has over 60 years’ nuclear experience.