Covid-19: Essential retail workers gain access to virus tests

Supermarket workers, delivery drivers, and members of their households, who are showing symptoms of Covid-19, are now eligible for coronavirus testing.

The UK government announced yesterday (23 April) that all essential workers in England, and their families, will now be able to get tested. A new campaign will be launched to help them access tests, supported by a new online booking system.

According to the government, the new measures mean individuals and people they live with will have the reassurance of knowing whether their symptoms are caused by coronavirus, allowing them to decide whether they are well enough to return to work.

NHS and care staff, teachers, hospital cleaners, public servants, the emergency services, and other critical infrastructure staff are all on the list of essential workers, alongside those in the supermarket and delivery sectors.

Employers can now register and refer self-isolating staff, while from today employees will be able to book a test directly for themselves or members of their household who are experiencing a high temperature or new continuous cough.

The government said a broad range of testing methods are being introduced to increase accessibility, including home testing kits, mobile testing sites, and satellite testing kits. The government had committed to testing 100,000 people a day for coronavirus, by the end of April, but with one week to go, daily tests are at around one-fifth of that target.

Speaking yesterday, health secretary Matt Hancock commented: “We have already prioritised testing for patients and health and social care workers and other key workers and today I can go further.

“We are making it easier, faster and simpler for any essential worker in England who needs a test to get a test."

Essential workers using the new website can enter their details and will then receive a text or email the same day inviting them to either book an appointment at one of more than 30 drive-thru testing sites across England, or receive a home testing kit.

Test results from drive-thru sites will be sent out by text within 48 hours, and within 72 hours of collection of the tests completed at home.

According to the government, a network of new mobile testing units is being established. These will travel the country to care homes, police stations, prisons, and other sites where there is demand for testing.

Royal Mail and Amazon are aiding the government in the home delivery service for testing kits, although availability of these kits is still limited.