Yesterday, the government announced that anyone presenting symptoms of Covid-19 are now able to book a test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
The government defines symptoms of Covid-19 as anyone experiencing a new continuous cough; high temperature; a loss or change in normal sense of smell or taste.
The ability to book a test comes ahead of the rollout of the test and trace service.
After all 4 UK Chief Medical Officers confirmed that anosmia (loss or change in sense of smell) is a symptom of Covid-19 infection, the government has expanded its testing programme.
The government advise that anyone experiencing the above symptoms should self-isolate until a negative test result has been obtained.
The government has now extended testing capacity to 200,000 tests per day.
The government claims to have ‘doubled the capacity of the NHS/PHE lab network’ as well as ‘set up 50 regional testing centres and 116 mobile testing units.’
Additionally, the government has introduced home testing kits and ‘3 lighthouse laboratories.’
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“Following the massive ramping up of our national testing programme, anybody with symptoms of coronavirus in the United Kingdom is now eligible for a test.
“This is a huge step forward in our plan to slow the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and give the peace of mind these tests can bring.
“We will continue to give priority to NHS staff and care home residents and workers in order to protect our most vulnerable.”
The government state that:
‘The tracing element of the service in England, due to be launched shortly, will be supported by 21,000 contact tracers who have now been recruited, and will play a vital role working to reach those who have been in close contact with someone who has developed coronavirus.
‘The new workforce in England of more than 21,000 contract tracers will be overseen by experts from Public Health England and local government.’
PHE Deputy Chief Executive Richard Gleave said:
“Test and trace will require a huge team effort bringing together PHE and local government leaders, experts in logistics and thousands of new staff to carry out contact tracing. It’s great to see people from a wide range disciplines coming forward to play their part.”
NHS Professionals’ CEO Nicola McQueen said:
“We have seen a fantastic response to join the virtual frontline of home-based clinical contact caseworkers for the test and trace service. This service is key to the national response to COVID-19.
“We know that so many of our bank members, as well as other registered healthcare professionals, are keen to help in any way they can and this unique position will allow them to do just that.”