Images above: Health Secretary Matt Hancock; Covid-19 nose swab test
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that testing for Covid-19 would be expanded to include people with Coronavirus symptoms aged over 65 and staff and residents of care homes, even if they weren’t showing any symptoms:
“Building on successful pilots, we will be rolling out testing of asymptomatic residents and staff in care homes in England, and to patients and staff in the NHS. This will mean that anyone who is working or living in a care home will be able to get access to a test whether they have symptoms or not” Hancock said.
Testing has already begun in Ealing, though in a surprising style. Rupa Huq MP and Ealing councillors were informed on Saturday morning that the army were setting up a testing centre at Gurnell Leisure Centre, but that it would only be open for two days – Sunday and Monday (yesterday).
I asked the Department of Health why it was for such a short time and why with so little notice, as it would not have been possible to test all those in Ealing who were eligible for testing in that time. I also asked whether there were plans for further testing centres to be set up, where they would be and for how long they would be open.
Instead of addressing those questions, the press office directed me to their online guidance for getting tested. This merely tells you who is eligible and provides a link for people to use when applying for a test. If you suit the criteria, when you apply you are told when and where to go, but there is no general information available on the site about where and when the testing will take place, other than this:
‘Mobile testing units travel around the UK to increase access to coronavirus testing. They respond to need, travelling to test essential workers at sites including care homes, police stations and prisons. New units are being brought into operation each day’.
Who can be tested
The Department of Health website says:
‘Our priority is testing patients to inform their clinical diagnosis. We are also testing:
- all essential workers including NHS and social care workers with symptoms (see the full list of essential workers)
- anyone over 65 with symptoms
- anyone with symptoms whose work cannot be done from home (for example, construction workers, shop workers, emergency plumbers and delivery drivers)
- anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus and lives with any of those identified above
Additionally, we are testing:
- social care workers and residents in care homes (with or without symptoms) both to investigate outbreaks and, following successful pilots, as part of a rolling programme to test all care homes
- NHS workers and patients without symptoms, in line with NHS England guidance
‘This means anyone in one of these groups can find out whether they have the virus. Testing is most effective within 3 days of symptoms developing’.
If you are eligible for a test you can apply here.
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See also: Coronavirus deaths in Chiswick
See also: Covid-19 deaths in Care homes published