Weekly testing for care staff as staff revealed as infection vectors

Care home staff in England will be given coronavirus tests every week and residents monthly from Monday 6 July to identify anyone with the virus and reduce transmission, after research shows that infections in staff are among the key risk factors for infection in residents.

New research outlining the incidence of COVID-19 in care homes suggests that staff are more likely to transmit infections to residents than vice versa. Risk factors for infection include:

  • Regular use of ‘bank’ staff  
  • New admissions, and return of residents to the care home  

Region is also understood to be an important risk factor for infection in staff and residents, but its effect is different in staff and residents. This may be due to temporal differences in the timing of testing between staff and residents, says the DHSC.

The new repeat testing regime will be initially prioritised for care homes primarily looking after over 65s or those with dementia before being rolled out to all adult care homes

Data from a survey of around 5,100 older people’s care homes in England shows the following infection rates:

  • Residents: 10.5 per cent
  • Staff: 3.8 per cent (95% confidence interval: 3.4 to 4.2%)
  • Based on analysis of test results from the Whole Care Home Testing  
  • 2.4 per cent of all tests were positive (9,674)
  • 3.9 per cent of residents tested positive (6,747)
  • 3.3 per cent of asymptomatic residents tested positive (5,455)
  • 80.9 per cent of residents who tested positive were asymptomatic (5,455)
  • 1.2 per cent of asymptomatic staff tested positive (2,567).
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