The Government has rolled out testing to all essential workers and any members of their households who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 from Friday, April 24.
Employers can now register and refer staff who are self-isolating, while employees are able to book a test directly for themselves or anyone in their household who has a high temperature or a new continuous cough.
Essential workers can choose a drive-through appointment at a regional test site or a home testing kit, which will be delivered to your door, though the Government says the availabilty of those kits will initially be limited – and today’s allocation had already run out before 9am.
The Government aims to open up to 50 regional drive-through testing sites by the end of April, with 29 already in operation, and says most people should not have to drive for more than 45 minutes to attend one.
There are also plans for mobile testing units which will travel to places like care homes, police stations, prisons and other sites where they are needed and for ‘satellite’ testing kits to be sent to care homes and hospitals.
Essential workers can apply for a test by entering their details on a new online portal. They will then receive a text or email that day inviting them to book an appointment at a drive-through testing site or to receive a home testing kit.
Results from the drive-through sites will be texted within 48 hours, while those from home delivery tests will be available within 72 hours of collection.
The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, which can be done by the person themselves or by someone else.
If the result is negative, staff have been told they can safely return to work as long as they are well enough, have not had a high temperature for 48 hours and anyone they live with also tests negative.
Should the worker test positive, they should continue to self-isolate and if their condition gets worse, or they do not get better after seven days, they should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.
The Government insists it is on track to meet its target of carrying out 100,000 tests per day by the end of April, despite currently being well short of that goal, with just 23,560 tests completed on April 22.
It has set up three new ‘Lighthouse Labs’ in Milton Keynes, Glasgow and Cheshire, each of which it says will be capable of testing tens of thousands of samples per day.
The 29 regional testing centres currently in operation are: Aberdeen; Belfast; Birmingham (Midland Metropolitan); Brighton; Bristol; Cardiff; Chessington; Doncaster; Edgbaston; Edinburgh; Gateshead; Gatwick; Glasgow; Greenwich; Ipswich; Leeds; Liverpool; Londonderry; Manchester; Milton Keynes; NHS Nightingale London; Nottingham; Plymouth; Portsmouth; Preston; Stansted; Twickenham; Wembley; and Worcester.
To apply for a coronavirus test, visit: self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk.