ALMOST 150 staff working for Hampshire Hospitals have tested positive for Covid through asymptomatic testing.

A report to Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust’s (HHFT) board of directors in March states that at the time of writing, 149 asymptomatic staff results had been detected.

A total of 144 of these were from the use of lateral flow tests used at home, and five from saliva LAMP tests.

Staff have been using Covid-19 home testing kits twice a week.

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of the trust, which runs Andover, Basingstoke and Winchester hospitals, said: “Each of these individuals were unaware that they might have Covid-19 and so the testing has significantly reduced the risk of transmission across our hospitals.”

She said a saliva LAMP testing pilot is being run in the emergency department and critical care, and that this is set to be expanded in the coming weeks.

As previously reported, the microbiology team at Basingstoke hospital created a national prototype for portable Covid-19 testing, which is more accurate than lateral flow tests.

The team, led by clinical scientist Stephen Kidd, has evaluated and validated the test which can give a rapid result from a saliva sample rather than a swab, making the testing experience more pleasant for the patient.

Lateral flow tests are being used by school pupils and staff to test twice a week for Covid, identifying those who do not have symptoms.

The lateral tests involve taking a sample from the tonsils and the nose, which can be an 'unpleasant' experience.

The new test being clinically evaluated at Basingstoke hospital instead uses saliva to identify those with Covid-19.