Covid-19 testing will now be available to all NHS and social care staff even if they do not have symptoms, the Department of Health and Social Care announced this week.
Care home residents will also be eligible to receive Covid-19 tests – as will symptomatic people who cannot work from home, and over 65s and symptomatic members of their household.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday: ‘Expansion of our testing programme protects our most vulnerable and keeps people safe.’
The Government said that Covid-19 testing helps to understand the current spread of the disease and plan how to manage the pandemic.
It is piloting sending packages of ‘satellite’ testing kits directly to care homes across England to enable testing of residents.
A total of 4,760 tests have been delivered to more than 4,300 locations. In addition, more than 25,000 care staff have already been tested.
The ultimate aim of expanding Covid-19 testing to social care is that anyone who needs a test will be able to have one, it added.
It said there are now more than 40 drive-through testing sites across the country and that 25,000 home testing kits will be available for ordering by the end of the week.
Last week, the Government announced that all essential workers with symptoms can book a coronavirus test or order a home testing kit, through an online portal.
Mobile testing units will also travel to places with the ‘highest demand’ such as care homes, it was announced last week.
Earlier this month, the Government launched a plan to stop coronavirus spreading in care homes by boosting access to personal protective equipment, ramping up testing and recruiting more staff.
The Royal College of Nursing has also warned that the lack of testing for NHS and social care staff is ‘unacceptable’.