COVID-19 testing is being made available to all care home residents and staff from today as the government aims to open up screening to millions of people.
The government, which is aiming to reach 100,000 tests a day by tomorrow, has also now opened up testing for the over 65s and people who must go out to work.
Speaking during yesterday’s coronavirus briefing, Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “From construction workers to emergency plumbers, from research scientists to those in manufacturing, the expansion of access to testing will protect the most vulnerable and help keep people safe.”
People eligible for a test can do so by going to the government’s website by clicking here.
The launch of widespread testing follows revelations that up to three-quarters of care home providers had reported that none of their staff had been screened for the virus.
Vida Healthcare director Bernadette Mossman told the BBC this week that staff at a care where two residents had died with coronavirus had waited 10 days for testing kits to arrive with some employees travelling 70 miles for a test.
Speaking before today’s expansion of testing, Sam Monaghan, CEO of MHA, said: “Testing is only now starting to become more prevalent in care homes so we should start to know for certain the extent to which our care homes are being affected.
“We are starting to see testing being rolled out for residents and staff, but it is still early days in terms of the processes being developed by which this is happening.
“And because up to now the testing has been focussed upon those presenting symptoms, we’re also now learning that some residents and staff who are testing positive for the virus are not presenting symptoms at all.
“It’s therefore vital that we have routine testing on a weekly basis in order to ensure we can isolate those with CV19 and ensure we don’t have staff working when they have the virus.”
Tony Stein, CEO of Healthcare Management Solutions, added: “Testing for staff and their families is a game changer. We will now be able to test those staff who are self-isolating, perhaps because a family member might be showing symptoms, and potentially, get them back into the homes.”