Update: 6 May 2020
On 6 May, the Department of Health and Social Care told Community Care that, among social care workers, only those working in care homes could access a test without having symptoms of coronavirus. Find our more here.
Frontline social workers and care workers in England will now be able to obtain a coronavirus test regardless of whether they are exhibiting symptoms or not.
The move is part of an extension of testing announced today which also includes providing tests to asymptomatic care home residents and is part of the government’s drive to reach 100,000 tests by the end of April. The figure for yesterday (27 April) was 43,563.
Since 17 April, frontline social workers in England have been able to access tests, booked through their employer, but only if they were displaying symptoms of Covid-19, resulting in them having to self-isolate or take sick leave.
The new arrangements mean that social workers who are well, working but concerned that they may be carrying the virus and at risk of passing it on to colleagues or the people they support will be able to access a test. While the World Health Organisation has said that the Covid-19 virus is mainly transmitted symptomatically, it has found that transmission can occur pre-symptomatically and, potentially, asymptomatically, though it is conducting further research on this.
Tests, which involve taking a swab from the nose or back of the throat, can now also be booked through self-referral, as well as through employers.
They are being largely carried out through regional drive-through testing sites, though the government is also developing mobile testing units – which can travel to deliver testing – and home testing kits.
Who is covered by the testing arrangements in England?
The following groups of social care, or social care-related, staff in England can access Covid-19 tests while asymptomatic:
- Social workers, care workers and other frontline social care staff, including volunteers;
- Social care support staff;
- Those working in the social care supply chain, including producers and distributors of equipment and medicines.