All essential workers in England – and their household members – are now eligible for coronavirus testing, said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
About 10 million key workers who need to book a test to see if they have the virus will be able to do so on the government’s website starting Friday.
At the Downing Street Daily Briefing, Hancock said the move “was part of the recovery of Britain.”
He added that 18,000 people will be hired to find the contacts of those infected.
The Welsh government has previously presented plans to extend testing to key workers, such as teachers and food delivery drivers, and the Minister for Health in Northern Ireland has announced that the national testing program is being expanded to include front line workers in the private sector.
Scotland prioritizes testing for NHS staff and has not yet announced plans to extend testing to key workers.
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Responding to the UK government’s “difficult” target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of the month, Hancock said that the ability to carry out tests had accelerated “before our plans” to more than 50,000 a day.
“Our ultimate goal is that everyone who could benefit from a test receive it,” he said.
The government is also introducing home test kits and mobile test sites, which will be operated with the support of the armed forces, said Hancock.
Key workers who cannot access the government website will still be able to request a test, as employers can book on behalf of their staff starting Thursday.
Hancock said those who qualify for the tests would be based on an updated list of essential workers and, according to the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson, would apply to around 10 million people.
The whole process will be free for those who are tested.
Once people have entered their contact details online, they will receive an SMS or email inviting them to make an appointment – with test results published by SMS and a help desk available to answer all your questions. said Hancock.
The test involves taking a swab from the nose or throat.
Hospitals carried out tests, as well as a network of around thirty driving service centers in parking lots, airports and sports fields.
But the service centers behind the wheel were not always conveniently located, which may have discouraged people from getting tested.
Hancock also detailed plans for a network of contact tracers that will be used when the lock is released, stressing that a “test, track and trace” process would be “vital” to stop a second peak. of the virus.
The hope is that regional virus epidemics can be brought under control by isolating people with the virus, then tracing their contacts and isolating them.
Hancock said the infrastructure would be put in place so that tracing could be deployed “on a large scale.”
He added that the 18,000 people recruited to help find contacts included 3,000 clinicians and public health experts.
Regarding testing, Hancock said capacity reached 51,000 per day, although Thursday’s figures show that only 23,560 tests were performed – which is still well below the 100,000 target. per day.
Figures released Thursday by the Department of Health and Welfare have shown that another 616 people died from the virus in UK hospitals, bringing the total number of deaths to 18,738.
An analysis of figures released by the BBC confirmed that at least 103 health workers died from coronavirus, of which 65 were black, Asian or from an ethnic minority.
These are big test announcements, which will be important in breaking the lock.
The army of 18,000 contact tracers will be large.
When contact tracing was done at the start of the epidemic to try to contain the coronavirus, it relied on a few hundred employees working for the nine regional teams at Public Health England.
When restrictions are relaxed, infections increase. The government will need a system to contain any local outbreaks.
These contact tracers will help identify the close contacts of infected people to stay one step ahead of the virus by finding cases early.
But the missing piece of the puzzle is a common test for the general public so that those identified can be tested.
By the end of next week, the government aims to perform 100,000 tests a day.
Achieving this objective, and perhaps more, will be essential to guarantee the establishment of a robust system allowing a gradual and gradual return to a certain degree of normality.
Also during the briefing, Professor John Newton, coordinator of the UK coronavirus screening program, said that the government was “on track” to reach 100,000 tests a day by the end of April and that new types of tests – including those that do not rely on insufficient reagents – would help achieve the goal.
He added that there would soon be 48 “pop-up facilities” that could travel across the country to where they were most needed, while a British consortium of rapid tests was working on antibody tests that people could use it at home to tell them if they have had the virus in the past.
Addressing the coronavirus lockdown, the health secretary said the “message remains the same” and that government tests to lift the restrictions had not yet been followed.
He added that the plan by Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said that lifting the closure of the coronavirus would likely be staggered in Scotland, was “very similar” to the government’s approach.
Mr Hancock said: ‘We have defined the five tests we need to make changes to the lockdown measures and the Scottish government’s proposals are based on these tests. “
He added: “The UK-wide approach is the best way to go. “
Speaking at the same briefing in Downing Street, UK chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said he believed London was ahead of the rest of the country in eradicating the disease, and that in two or three weeks “you might expect to see differences across the country. “.
He added that the social distancing measures had reduced the infection rate “dramatically”.
In other developments:
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- A party of submarines was filmed partying during the coronavirus lockout, which sparked a Royal Navy investigation
- Government science advisors report to ministers on whether public should wear face masks – no decision yet
- The New Zealand nurse, known to have helped save the Prime Minister’s life, described him as “another patient we were trying to do our best for.”
- Government Pressured To Give Business “Hope” After Warning Social Distancing Could Last The Rest Of The Year
- The first “realistic” point at which schools in England could begin to reopen would be June 1, said the head of the Association of School and College Leaders.
- Thousands of households in England will be contacted to participate in a follow-up study of coronaviruses in the general population
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the coronavirus crisis is “just the beginning” as she prepares the country for Covid-19
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