Heathrow employees are at the centre of a new Test and Trace Government led scheme that could become a benchmark for future control strategies.

The airport employs large numbers of people from Slough and Windsor - many of whom cannot do their job at home.

Security operators, engineers, fire servicemen and women, trolley operators and passenger service team members all have to come into the airport to do their jobs.

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The new scheme will see 2,000 employees regularly taking part in tests that will reveal in 20 minutes if they have the Covid virus and if they are infectious.

One in three people with coronavirus do not display symptoms, meaning they are at risk of unknowingly spreading the virus to others.

The scheme aims to identify how routine testing might be used to help identify asymptomatic cases of Covid in the airport’s workforce, help stop the spread of the new more contagious strain of the virus and provide valuable insight into how rapid testing can be more widely deployed across Britain to keep vital services running.

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This Government-led pilot will take place over four weeks initially.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “We’re pleased to be working with the Government on this pilot testing scheme which goes even further to protect our colleagues and the other key workers who are keeping the country moving through this crisis.

"This pilot will support us as we work to keep the UK’s biggest port running smoothly, helping to facilitate essential journeys and the movement of cargo.”

Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said: "This pilot is one of many which will inform our understanding of how rapid asymptomatic testing can be operationalised in the real world; to protect those at high risk, find the virus and help us go back to as normal a way of life as possible.”