Govt to introduce COVID tests for England care home visitors
LONDON (UK) – According to a new pilot scheme that aims to bring down curbs in time for Christmas, those visiting care homes in parts of England will be able to get screened for coronavirus, said the health ministry on Saturday.
Although England is under lockdown until December, visits to care homes can go on in certain circumstances. According to officials, there have to be screens, windows or visiting pods to reduce the risk of infections.
“I know how heart-breaking restricting visits to care homes have been, not only for residents, many of whom will feel disoriented and confused by the situation, but also their loved ones who aren’t able to simply hug each other to support them in this difficult time,” health minister Matt Hancock said.
“Thanks to the expanding testing capacity we have in place we can now begin to trial a new way to allow safer visits to take place and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
When the pandemic first broke out in the country, the government came under fire for failing to prevent the spread of the infection through care homes and for discharging people from hospitals and sending them to care homes without testing them.
The scheme will begin on Monday in about 20 care homes in places in England where the infection rates are much lower. It will be rolled out in other places in December.
As per the scheme, one family member or friend of a resident can be tested before making a visit.
They can either make use of gold-standard PCR tests, which can be done at home, or lateral flow tests, which are less accurate but give results in just 30 minutes.