BRACKNELL Forest Council is working with the military to prepare mass coronavirus testing for the community.

Authority bosses have already started getting to grips with the initiative and will continue to collaborate with military personnel until January 24, when a final report setting out how the council will deliver community testing will be sent to the government.

Asked by Labour’s Patricia Brown what plans BFC had to develop community testing, leader Paul Bettison (Conservative) said the authority was “committed” to implementing such a programme as part of its wider covid outbreak control plan.

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He added: “We [will] target lateral flow testing in asymptomatic people to identify positive cases and promote self-isolation early to prevent transmission.

“All Berkshire local authorities including Bracknell Forest are working with military planners for the next two weeks from the 11th to the 24th of January to progress the plans for community testing locally.

“At the end of this time period, we will be submitting the proposed approach to DHSC for approval and we’ll be in a position to confirm dates and implementation then.

“Community testing will in the first instance focus on testing those who cannot work from home during the lockdown period.

“Particularly those who are in roles that have contact with vulnerable individuals, the general public more broadly, and other critical and key worker colleagues impacting on business.”

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Cllr Paul Bettison gave details of the testing programme at a meeting of the council yesterday (January 13).

Earlier at the meeting, he was quizzed by Labour’s Mary Temperton about what support the council was offering teachers and staff to improve testing accuracy at the borough’s schools.

Responding, Cllr Bettison said: “School testing is one of the national testing programmes along with NHS staff testing and care home testing.

“Therefore the Department for Education [DfE] and the Department of Health and Social Care [DHSC] have been working with schools directly to deliver testing.

“BFC public health and education learning colleagues have met with headteachers to make sure the approach taken locally is of high quality and robust.

“We’re confident that all schools within Bracknell Forest have adequately trained their staff to deliver testing having decided to staff the programmes using their own workforce.

“All staff have taken all relevant online training provided by the DfE and the DHSC to improve the accuracy of the testing.

“We will continue to work with schools to evaluate the approach being implemented and will support schools to refine their programme continually driving improvement.

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“It should be noticed that Bracknell Forest schools have been extremely proactive in driving implementation locally meaning employment in Bracknell Forest is the most advanced across Berkshire.

“Additionally, We are currently working up plans for community testing and exploring workforce options to deliver this.

Training features heavily to ensure the workforce is competent and accuracy of testing is optimal.”