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Government to boost social care COVID-19 testing

15 April 2020

THE GOVERNMENT has announced that all care home residents and social care staff with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms will be tested as capacity is built up.

Currently the first five symptomatic residents in a care home setting are tested to provide confirmation of whether if there is an outbreak.

However, as lab capacity increases every day the government is expanding testing to include all care home residents who develop symptoms.

Testing will now also be provided to all potential care home residents before they are discharged from hospital. The government believes this will provide reassurance to residents and family members, and will help care providers to take appropriate action to ensure that social care workers and other residents are safe – including implementing isolation procedures for those who test positive.

The measures are expected to be outlined further in the government’s COVID-19 social care action plan.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, said: "I am deeply conscious that people in residential care are among the most vulnerable to coronavirus. We are doing everything we can to keep workers, residents and their families safe, and I am determined to ensure that everyone who needs a coronavirus test should be able to have access to one.

"We have already begun testing social care workers and will roll this out nationwide over the coming days. And as we continue to ramp up our testing programme, we will test all current care home residents with coronavirus symptoms and all new care home residents who are discharged from hospital into care.

"Testing is key in our battle against coronavirus, and as part of our plan to prevent the spread and save lives we will ensure that everyone in social care who needs a test can have a test."

As the rollout continues, the Health Secretary has confirmed that every social care worker who needs a test can now get one.

Dedicated testing has already begun for frontline staff, including social care workers and in addition to over 20,000 tests for NHS workers and their families.

As capacity grows further through the government’s new mega labs, it will prioritise the testing of symptomatic social care workers and anyone in their household who have COVID-19 symptoms.

CQC are leading co-ordination of testing for the care sector, and have already offered 6000 care facilities the opportunity to test their staff. By the end of the week they will have contacted all 30,000 care providers.

Care providers will identify workers eligible for testing and refer them to their local testing centre.

Tests for social care staff and residents will support the government to achieve its ambition of 100,000 COVID-19 tests a day by end of April 2020.