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Weekly Covid testing for homecare workers welcomed by West Norfolk firm

West Norfolk homecare company Extra Hands has welcomed the Government announcement that care workers looking after people in their own homes will be offered weekly testing for Covid.

Those working for Care Quality Commission-registered providers will receive weekly polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to administer at home, which will help identify more asymptomatic cases and protect care users who are more vulnerable to the virus.

Regular testing will give workers peace of mind by picking up on any asymptomatic transmission and protect those they care for.

covid (43064481)
covid (43064481)

"From the discussions we've had with our carers they certainly welcome this announcement," said Jo Tier, director of care services at Extra Hands.

"But as these weekly tests already happen in care homes, we had hoped this announcement would come sooner than it has as we feel homecare workers tend to get overlooked despite putting themselves at risk every day."

She added: "We look forward to hearing further details about how this is going to be managed in the community."

The expansion of testing to homecare workers is the next phase in the rollout of mass testing across the country, and has been made possible by the huge increase in testing capacity in recent weeks.

Nearly 35 million tests have now been processed in the UK since the service began and this week the government announced two new ‘mega labs’, which will add a further 600,000 to daily UK testing capacity in early 2021.

Minister for Care, Helen Whately said: “Homecare workers have been doing an incredible job throughout the pandemic, caring day in and day out and going the extra mile to keep people they care for safe from Covid.

“As our testing capacity continues to expand, I’m glad we’re able to take this next step and make regular testing available to homecare workers. Now, as well as having PPE, homecare workers will be able to take a weekly test to check they don’t have coronavirus.

“We now have the largest testing capacity in Europe, so we’re using this to protect those who are at greater risk if they catch Covid.”

Proactively testing asymptomatic individuals helps to identify those who unknowingly have the virus and enables those who test positive and their contacts to self-isolate.

All registered homecare agencies will be contacted with details of how to apply for test kits for their carers. Homecare agencies will be responsible for ordering and distributing tests to all homecare workers for them to conduct at home on a weekly basis, testing on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. This approach will maximise capacity available in laboratories.

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