Western Morning News

Millions now eligible for tests as capacity is expanded

- JANE KIRBY Press Associatio­n

MILLIONS of people are now eligible for a coronaviru­s test under an expansion of the testing programme announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

As he seeks to reach his 100,000-tests-a-day target, Mr Hancock said key workers and anyone in their household will now be eligible for tests if they have symptoms of Covid-19.

Key workers on the list are the same as those for access to schools, and include NHS and social care workers, police officers, teachers, social workers, those in the justice system, undertaker­s, some in local government, supermarke­t and food production workers, journalist­s, transport workers and some people in utilities and IT.

Mr Hancock set out his plans for “easier, faster and simpler” testing so that more people can access a Covid19 test to tell them whether they currently have the virus.

He said people can register for a test on the gov.uk website.

People will then receive a text or email with an appointmen­t at a drivethrou­gh centre or can request a home test kit, although the latter are currently in limited supply.

A help desk has been establishe­d to aid the process, while mobile units run by the Army are travelling around the country to where they are needed, such as care homes.

At the daily Downing Street briefing, Mr Hancock said the capacity for carrying out tests was now “ahead of our plans”, with the ability to carry out more than 50,000 tests a day. Because capacity has now increased so substantia­lly, we are now able to expand who can get the tests,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is that everyone who could benefit from a test gets a test.”

Essential workers will be able to book coronaviru­s tests direct, while companies will also be able to book them for employees.

Mr Hancock said: “From today, employers of essential workers will be able to go on gov.uk to get a test for any of their staff.

“From tomorrow, any essential workers who need a test will be able to book an appointmen­t on gov.uk themselves, directly.

“This all applies for people in essential workers’ households too who need a test. It’s all part of getting Britain back on her feet.”

The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, which can be done by the person themselves (self-administer­ed) or by someone else.

Meanwhile Nicola Sturgeon has given the strongest indication yet of how the UK’s lockdown measures may be eased. Scotland’s First Minister has published a document saying the lifting of restrictio­ns north of the border will be a phased process, with pubs among the last things to reopen, but further lockdowns are not ruled out. The document says social distancing will need to stay in place even as people are given more freedom.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom