Saturday, November 27

Testing for staff in high-risk jobs in UK



Tens of thousands of people in “high-risk” jobs will be tested for coronavirus despite having no symptoms as part of a new government scheme.

People including taxi drivers, cleaners and shop assistants will be involved in the pilot announced by the Department of Health and Social Care today.

The DHSC said the testing, which begins tomorrow, would improve understanding of the prevalence of the virus among those who are judged to be at higher risk.

Firms included in the trial include taxi firm Addison Lee, BT, services firm Mitie and pharmacy giant Boots. The DHSC said each business will receive thousands of tests for staff via home-testing delivery or a mobile testing unit.

Four councils – Bradford, Newham, Brent and Oldham – will also book tests for people at walk-in test sites. The town halls will select groups of people deemed to be high-risk for asymptomatic testing.

Those who test positive will need to self-isolate. Results will be shared with the NHS Test and Trace programme so contacts can be traced, DHSC said.

The pilot is designed to “evaluate the effectiveness of testing” for people who show no symptoms. Estimates of how many people have coronavirus without symptoms vary wildly because for many, they do not know to report themselves as a possible case.

That means they could be spreading the virus unwittingly in the community. Latest estimates suggest between 12,000 to 44,000 peple in the community in England had coronavirus between June 14-27.

That is far more than are tracked by the Test and Trace programme because it includes more than just people who officially test positive.

It comes as official figures show Test and Trace is still failing to reach a quarter of people who test positive to track down their recent contacts. 31,421 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England had their case transferred to NHS Test and Trace during its first five weeks. Of this total, 23,796 people (76%) were reached and asked to provide details of recent contacts, while 6,645 people (21%) were not reached.

A further 980 people (3%) could not be reached because their communication details had not been provided. The figures cover the period May 28 to July 1.