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29.04.20

Coronavirus testing to be further expanded to protect most vulnerable

As efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak continue and safeguard the most vulnerable in society, anyone in England with Covid-19 symptoms who has to leave home to go to work, and any symptomatic member of the public aged 65 and over, will now be able to get tested.

Rapidly increasing testing capacity has given government the confidence to offer out this expanded testing, allowing those who cannot work from home and those aged 65 and over to know for certain whether they have coronavirus and need to continue isolating.

Testing of all asymptomatic NHS and social care staff, as well as care home residents, are also being rolled out to help shield the most vulnerable and safely keep vital staffing levels at a maximum in hospitals and care environments.

Along with the expansion of testing to these new groups, members of their households who present symptoms – a new continuous cough or high temperature – will also be eligible for testing.

Anyone eligible can book a test using an online portal.

Working alongside Public Health England, the Care Quality Commission and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the government is piloting sending packages of ‘satellite’ test kits directly to care homes across England to enable the testing of residents.

So far, a total of 4,760 tests have been delivered to more than 4,300 sites. Over 25,000 care staff have also been tested.

READ MORE: UK boosts testing capacity with three new diagnostic labs

READ MORE: Government offers commitment to facilitate testing in social care settings

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “Expansion of our testing programme protects our most vulnerable and keeps people safe.

“Testing is now available to all over 65s and members of their households, if they have symptoms.

“Any worker who needs to leave their home in order to go to work, and their households, if any of them have symptoms can also get a test. This means construction workers to emergency plumbers, research scientists to those in manufacturing - can now be tested.

“All they need to do is go on the internet and apply for a test.”

Coronavirus testing allows the government and scientists to better understand the current spread and plan on how to manage the pandemic. As capacity has increased, a phased approach has seen testing offered to different groups, prioritising NHS workers.

However, the end goal of testing will be to be positioned to be able to offer the service to anyone who needs a test.

There are now more than 40 drive-through testing sites across the country, and, by the end of the week, 25,000 home testing kits will be available for ordering every day.

Since the beginning of April, the government has significantly increased the UK’s coronavirus testing capacity, which currently stands at 73,400 tests per day and is on track to reach 100,000 tests daily by the end of the month.

Main Image Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images

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