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As the percentage of vaccinated people in the UK continues to rise, with many now receiving their booster jabs, you may be inclined to believe that lateral flow testing in the workplace isn’t as crucial as it once was. In fact, the opposite is true, and it’s probably more important this winter than it’s ever been.
In this article, we explore a few of the reasons why you’ll want to ensure that you keep offering your staff regular lateral flow testing this winter.
Most adults in the UK have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, with many people now being offered their third vaccine – the booster jab. Whilst this is an important step in the fight against COVID, it’s important to recognise the limitations of the vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccine, whichever version you receive, is designed to teach your body how to fight off the virus, giving your immune system a ‘memory’ of what the virus looks like so that it knows what to do if we ever contract it.
This doesn’t stop you from contracting or potentially even spreading the virus, though – it just helps your body fight it off quicker and more efficiently. So, you can still spread it around by coughing, sneezing and even talking in proximity to others. In fact, someone with the disease may not show any symptoms at all if the vaccine is completely effective, but they could still spread it around. This is why lateral flow testing is so important, as it primarily helps to identify the disease in people with no symptoms.
There are a lot of aspects to consider around December, as many staff will be engaging in activities that are less frequent in other parts of the year, such as shopping, parties and generally catching up with friends and family.
If you’re hosting a Christmas party for staff this year, there are a few things to consider that could ultimately increase the risk of COVID spreading amongst your workforce. Firstly, it’s a social event – there will be more mixing than usual between different areas of the business, meaning an isolated case of COVID in one area of the business could easily spread to other parts of the business at the Christmas party.
Similarly, it’s likely that your staff will be meeting up with people socially that they don’t normally see as often throughout the rest of the year, and with infections on the rise, the possibility of bringing it back into the workplace is increasing. All of this mixing and mingling is makes it much easier for COVID to spread, so lateral flow testing prior to a Christmas party is almost essential.
January is also a key time to ensure that staff are offered lateral flow tests, as Christmas is one of the biggest periods for travel. This Christmas your staff will be visiting friends and relatives during their time off from work and may even be visiting other parts of the country to do so, increasing their risk of being exposed to the virus.
This break from normal routine is one of the most important reasons why you should offer staff testing when they return to the workplace in the new year – especially if it’s the first time they’ve been back to the workplace in a while.
As an extra precaution, you could even send staff home with individually boxed lateral flow tests at Christmas (not the most exciting gift, we know), for them to test themselves before they return to work.
There’s a good reason that colds and the flu are more prevalent in the winter months – cold weather generally nudges us into behaviours that increase the risk of infection from a variety of airborne illnesses.
We spend a lot more time inside during the colder months, for obvious reasons – whether that’s at the pub, or forgoing the walk to work in favour of getting a lift. Outside air is great at dispersing airborne viruses, as the air can move more freely, but indoors, droplets can linger in a stuffy room or car for hours, presenting plenty of chance for infection.
With winter comes rain, snow and wind-chill, meaning we’re far more likely to skip a morning jog or walk, and we’re getting almost no vitamin D from the sun, meaning our immune systems are much more vulnerable to illness.
Regular lateral flow testing won’t counteract the effects that winter has on us, but it can at least help to identify cases early and limit the spread of COVID.
Here at New Leaf Health, we’ve been providing COVID tests to our clients since late 2020. Presently, we offer the ACON Flowflex Lateral Flow Test, which is the most accurate and easy to use test available in the UK. Whether you’d like to purchase 1 pack or 100 packs, we offer the same level of service to all of our clients – free next-day delivery, thorough instructions, and the opportunity for a free web call to show you the testing procedure and talk about how you can roll out testing to your staff.
Want to find out more about our tests? Visit our online store or contact us directly – firstname.lastname@example.org.