Coronavirus Testing To Be Rolled Out To More Public Service Staff

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Coronavirus Testing To Be Rolled Out To More Public Service Staff

Coronavirus testing will be rolled out to people working in public services such as police, fire and prison staff, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

Capacity was rising “sharply” but not as many NHS staff had come forward for tests as had been expected, he said.

The government said 21,328 tests were carried out on Thursday but there had been capacity for at least 38,000.

The UK recorded 847 new coronavirus-related deaths in hospitals on Thursday, taking the total to 14,576.

The figure does not include hundreds more who have died in care homes and the community.

Prof Anthony Costello, the director of University College London’s Institute for Global Health, has said there could be 40,000 deaths in the UK as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

He told an online meeting of the Commons health committee that the UK had been “too slow” to react on a number of fronts to the crisis which may lead to it having “probably the highest death rates in Europe”.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, has previously said it would be a “good outcome” if total UK deaths could be kept below 20,000.

Warning that the UK would face “further waves” of the virus, Prof Costello said a system needed to be put in place that “cannot just do a certain number of tests in the laboratory” but one that reached out at “district and community level”.

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Also speaking to the committee by videolink, Mr Hancock said the government had prioritised testing for hospital patients and NHS workers before expanding it to residents and staff in social care.

He added some 50,000 NHS workers had so far been tested.

Eligibility for testing will also be expanded to critical local authority workers, the judiciary and Department for Work and Pensions staff, he said.

“We’re able to do that because of the scale-up of testing,” he added.

Mr Hancock said he hoped anyone with symptoms would be able to be tested “relatively soon”.

“Now we’ve got the curve under control, I want to be able to get back to the position that we can test everybody with symptoms and I anticipate being able to do that relatively soon because we’re increasing capacity as I say,” he said.

In other developments:

https://www.bbc.com

Coronavirus Testing To Be Rolled Out To More Public Service Staff

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