Coronavirus testing opened up to 10 million key workers and families

Essential workers and their households will be able to book coronavirus tests online from tomorrow, the health secretary says.
Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing, Matt Hancock said the criteria for who can be tested for coronavirus would be expanded to include any essential workers and their families who need a test.
Previously, some key workers with symptoms – such as NHS workers, social care staff, and emergency services – and their families had been allowed to be tested.
The government classifies key workers as those working in jobs such as teachers, government employees and delivery drivers.
Workers will be able to book an appointment directly on the government website from tomorrow, while companies can book them for employees from today.
“It’s all part of getting Britain back on her feet,” Mr Hancock said.
The health secretary said the expansion can happen because testing capacity has increased from 40,000 to 51,000 per day overnight – and means the UK is “ahead of our plans” to reach 100,000 tests per day by the end of April.





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Voices from the frontline against Covid-19


Newdays Pharmacy

Olivier Picard

A Pharmacist in Berkshire

We are getting about 100 requests every day for hand sanitisers, but we ran out of stock more than a week ago. We are also getting 20 people a day coming in to buy face masks, and we still have some of those left. My advice to people who come in for hand sanitisers is that washing your hands with soap and water is just as efficient as using the alcohol-based gel. Anxiety levels are definitely rising, because more people are talking about it, especially in the media. 

Olivier Picard, owner of four Newdays pharmacies in Berkshire states “My pharmacies are getting a hundred requests every day for hand sanitisers”

General Practitioner

Dr Jane Wheatley


A General Practitioner (GP) in North London

Although we are still in the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak it has already had a major impact on the surgery where I work.

One of our receptionists told us that her younger brother had become unwell after returning from a school skiing trip to Italy, as had several of his friends. One of them got tested for the virus. When our receptionist’s mother rang 111 to see if her son needed to be tested too, they said someone would come out to do that.

When we heard that, we sent our receptionist home as a precaution. Public Health England said she should self-isolate and be tested and we should deep clean the surgery. That was done– overnight, so we didn’t have to close – and our receptionist self-isolated.

“We are now screening all patients, and segregating any with respiratory problems”

Director of Classic care home

George Coxon


Director of a care home in Devon

We have been gearing up for an outbreak since initial reports of the virus, primarily by redoubling our basic everyday good hygiene practices. I have also been reassuring staff, and sharing public health updates from the government. We are reasonably well-stocked with hand sanitiser and disposable waste bags, although panic buying is giving us the biggest cause for concern at the moment.

Most of our residents are in their late 80s or older. They are living with advanced frailty and many have dementia. If they are exposed to this highly contagious virus, the consequences would in all likelihood be catastrophic. But while it’s right to be vigilant and aware of the risks, at the same time I’m trying to keep up morale and make sure everyone feels safe. If we all started wearing masks and gloves all day, it would cause a huge amount of anxiety among our residents. It’s also unrealistic to expect that people living with advanced dementia and frailty are going to wash their hands between five and 10 times a day.

Similarly, banning visitors is an absolute last resort, because I know how important it is to our families to be able to come and see their loved ones. We want to have a proportionate response to what is going on.

I am most concerned about the consequences of a blanket school and transport closure. Many of our staff have school-age children and don’t drive. So there’s anxiety about whether staff are going to be able to get to work and whether food and medicine supplies will be disrupted. But I’m trying to keep myself feeling bubbly and buoyant, so I can keep up morale and lead by example.

“Residents of our care home are in their 80’s and frail, An outbreak could be catastrophic”