FRONT line council workers who cannot work from home and are helping to keep essential services running across Dorset are now receiving weekly targeted asymptomatic testing.

Health authorities said identifying those showing no symptoms, reportedly one in three people infected with Covid-19, will mean positive cases can be identified more quickly.

This will lead to breaking the chains of virus transmission, Public Health Dorset.

Asymptomatic testing using lateral flow devices (LFD) has already been rolled out nationally to NHS front line staff, care home staff and residents, domiciliary care workers, schools and some commercial organisations.

In the first phase of the Dorset Rapid Testing Programme, BCP Council and Dorset Council will be introducing weekly LFD testing of some critical workers who come into face to face contact with the most vulnerable.

LDF testing is available for eligible groups from a mobile unit at the Civic Centre in Poole for BCP Council staff and at Weymouth Park and Ride for Dorset Council staff.

More sites are due to be considered in the coming weeks.

Public Health Dorset said in the weeks and months ahead the programme could also include community testing within council ward areas with high prevalence of Covid-19.

Councillor Nicola Greene, BCP Council portfolio holder for Covid-19 resilience and public health, said: “We are very pleased to be offering asymptomatic testing to key frontline staff who cannot work from home, to help us keep essential BCP Council services going during the pandemic.

“One in three people with Covid-19 have no symptoms so this testing will allow us to identify people who have Covid-19 without realising and ensure they self-isolate, whilst allowing others to keep working safely. It is an extra step in protecting our frontline staff and the people they support in our community.”

Cllr Laura Miller, Dorset Council portfolio holder for adult social care and health, added: “It’s a really positive step that we are now able to start offering rapid testing for our frontline employees, especially those who are in close contact with residents every day as part of their job.

"We know one in three people can have Covid-19 but not show symptoms, so want to do all we can to reduce the chances of employees unknowingly passing the virus on to those they work with and their loved ones, and make sure we can continue to provide essential services to people in our local communities.”

Public Health Dorset is working with both local authorities to identify further community groups to invite to the twelve-week asymptomatic testing programme; those who are working to keep essential services running or supporting the Covid effort and those who are vulnerable and at higher risk of transmission.

Rachel Partridge, assistant director of public health for Dorset and BCP Councils, said: “While most of our staff at BCP and Dorset Councils are able to continue to deliver council services working remotely, we have a number of staff who can’t do their jobs from home and need to be out seeing people in person.

“By introducing weekly lateral flow device testing for front line staff, as well as following all the other current COVID mitigations such social distancing and wearing of PPE, we aim to make any interactions safer so we can continue carrying out vital front line services. This allows the delivery of key services such as social care and passenger transport while keeping the rest of our communities safe and limiting the spread of Covid-19.”

Anyone who develops Covid-19 symptoms - a new continuous cough, a high fever or a loss or change of taste or smell - should continue to use the national portal to book a test at the mobile testing sites and local testing sites around the rest of Dorset.

They should also self-isolate immediately once developing any of these symptoms and not leave home unless to travel to a Covid-19 test appointment. Other members of the household and support bubble must also self-isolate until a result is received.

To book a test, visit or call 119.

Residents booking a Covid-19 test will get a choice of sites, depending where they are located that day and their capacity.

Sites in Dorset are at:

  • Bridport
  • Dorchester
  • Swannery Car Park, Weymouth
  • Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy, Portland
  • Purbeck Park
  • Station Road Car Park in Sturminster Newton
  • Hawkwood Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth
  • Wallisdown, Bournemouth
  • Lansdowne, Bournemouth
  • Creekmoor, Poole
  • Dolphin Swimming Pool Car Park, Poole
  • Two Riversmeet Leisure Centre, Christchurch