With the government renewing calls for all employees who can do so to continue working from home, for some companies it’s just business as usual – albeit a very different ‘usual’ than eight months ago. But for those that require a physically present workforce, the announcement is neither help nor hindrance. Those businesses are still very much relying on employees showing up for work and being effective in their roles.
So what can those businesses do to safeguard their staff and their bottom line? Covid-19 testing for the workplace is an effective way of keeping operations going during these uncertain times. Not only does employee testing help to stop a spread of infection across your workforce, it can also reassure staff that their employer is taking their health seriously and that their workplace is safe.
There are three types of Covid tests available. Collectively, they can determine someone’s past and current infection status, giving an employer vital information for making decisions when any employees test positive.
Testing for current infections among your staff requires either a rt PCR test or an onsite antigen test.
The rt PCR test is considered the gold standard in Covid-19 testing, taking between one and two days to process. A nose and throat swab sample is sent to a laboratory, which analyses it for the presence of viral RNA – the genetic material of Covid-19. Where this is present, the donor is confirmed as positive and must immediately follow government guidelines on quarantining.
Similarly, antigen testing uses the same sample collection method, but it is analysed using an on-site, portable, immunoassay device, with results visible on the device in 15 minutes. The instant antigen test will identify Covid-19 infection after the onset of symptoms or from 14 days after initial exposure to the virus.
The antibody test will reveal a current or historic case of Covid-19 by analysing a finger prick blood sample. The on-site antibody test can identify Covid-19 seven days onwards after the onset of symptoms, or 21 days after exposure to the virus. Where an individual has recovered from an infection, in theory they should have developed antibodies (IgM, which indicates a current infection and IgG, which indicates a previous infection) and as far as science knows this is the same for Covid-19, however it is not yet known whether this gives a person immunity of any time length or indeed whether that person is no longer infectious to others.
The instant, on-site antigen and antibody tests are useful for understanding who within your workforce might have Covid-19 so you can respond quickly.