A new online portal that makes it easier for care homes to arrange deliveries of coronavirus test kits has been launched.
As the national testing capacity has increased, the government is prioritising testing for care homes and other areas with the greatest need.
All symptomatic and asymptomatic care home staff and residents in England are now eligible for testing. Testing will be prioritised for care homes that look after the over 65s.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock says the new portal allows those who book tests for staff and residents to do so and offers a route for the prioritisation of care homes with the greatest need.
“We will continue to grow our testing capacity, as we know the certainty and confidence that high quality testing can provide.”
Minister of State for Care, Helen Whately, says the Governement is determined that staff will have everything they need to keep themselves and their residents safe.
“Testing is a crucial part of this,” she says. “It helps prevent and control outbreaks and means steps can be taken to reduce the spread the virus and protect the most vulnerable. By prioritising thousands of tests for care home staff and residents, we can target our national testing capacity in the areas and care homes with the greatest need.”
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is working with local authority Directors of Public Health, Directors of Adult Social Services and local NHS providers to deliver this testing programme for care homes.
Tens of thousands of care home workers and residents have already been tested, either by Public Health England, or at drive-through testing sites, mobile testing units and via satellite testing kits – packages of tests sent to care homes for staff to use on residents.
Testing asymptomatic workers helps prevent and control outbreaks. It means those who test positive can be isolated, reducing the number of people who can spread the virus and protecting the most vulnerable. It also helps to build up a strategic understanding of the prevalence of the virus in local areas and the sector as a whole.
Test results for residents will be communicated to the care home managers. This information will also be provided to councils in order to help manage coronavirus outbreaks in local areas.