Free support for Cumbrian companies looking to run Covid-19 testing programmes has been provided to more than 140 firms.

Cumbria County Council is offering local businesses free support from today with testing.

The council revealed that dozens of businesses had already signed up with benefits including protecting the workforce, business and customers.

The authority's online advice said: “Free training, free tests, free ongoing support and backup is on offer.”

Regular lateral flow testing of those without symptoms, it said, was a key part of the strategy for preventing the spread Covid.

“Businesses are being encouraged to start regular rapid-result testing for their workforce," the council added.

The council also offered an explanation of how the testing will work.

It said: “Lateral flow testing (LFT) is a fast and simple way to test people for Covid.

“The tests are easy to administer and give results in less than 30 minutes, on-site, with no need to send to a laboratory.

“They are designed to be intuitive and require minimal training to use.

“Those who test positive can then self-isolate to avoid passing the virus on to colleagues or customers.”

The council said it has two options for employers to sign up to.

The first sees firms set up an on-site testing programme with free training, test kits and set-up support, as well as ongoing backup.

Businesses will be shown how the tests work and how to record results.

Another option is the 11 testing sites set up across the county and open to essential workers who cannot work from home.