Coronavirus tests to be made available to prison staff, delivery drivers and other essential workers
PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:51 24 April 2020
Essential workers including prison staff, those in food and drink production and delivery drivers are now able to access coronavirus tests, the health secretary has confirmed.
As the government continues to work towards increasing capacity to 100,000 tests a day, further essential workers have been given the green light to apply for tests from tomorrow - while their employers are able to arrange them from today.
Speaking at the daily briefing at Downing Street, health secretary Matt Hancock said the government was now in a position to testing to essential workers beyond those working in health and social care.
He said: “When I set the goal of 100,000 daily tests by the end of the month I knew this would be challenging. Because capacity has now increased so substantially we are now able to expand who can get the tests.
“Our ultimate goal is that everyone who could benefit from a test gets a test.”
The health secretary added that a criteria similar to that which determines which children can attend school was being used to set who qualifies for a test.
A list has been published on the government’s website specifying which professions qualify and includes frontline benefits workers, critical personnel in food and drink production and local authority workers - as well as those living in their households.
From Thursday, employers of these workers will be able to apply to arrange tests, while the individuals will be able to seek them out on their own from Friday.
It comes on the same day Great Yarmouth MP and cabinet minister for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis told ITV Good Morning Britain’s Piers Morgan that it was “dreadful” more people can not get tests.
He said: “That’s why it’s important we do upscale the ability for people to access these tests, both with more test centres, the ability to have the tests at home, and the ability to apply for them directly rather than having to apply through their employer, which has been slowing things down.”
In Norfolk, more than 200 people have died after testing positive for the virus, with eight further deaths recorded on Thursday, taking the total number to 207.