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UK government expands coronavirus testing criteria

Those aged five and over will now be eligible for testing

Coronavirus

The UK government announced this week that every citizen aged five and over with symptoms will now be eligible for a coronavirus test in an effort to determine the spread of the virus in the community.

Prior to this announcement, testing in England and Scotland had been available only for people with symptoms who fell into the following categories – key workers and their families, hospital patients, care home residents, those over the age of 65 and individual who need to leave home for work.

Symptoms include a new continuous cough, high temperature and also a loss or change in normal sense of smell and taste (anosmia), which was added to the official list of symptoms this week.

This decision was made after all four UK chief medical officers confirmed that anosmia was a symptom of COVID-19, after increasing anecdotal reports of the loss of taste and smell among those who have contracted the disease.

The increased eligibility comes alongside a pledge to increase the daily testing capacity to 200,000 per day. The effort to increase testing is part of the government’s plan to steadily ease lockdown restrictions, with the expanded capacity aiding in the tracing of the virus among the general population.

“Following the massive ramping up of our national testing programme, anybody with symptoms of coronavirus in the United Kingdom is now eligible for a test,” said Matt Hancock, Health Secretary.

“This is a huge step forward in our plan to slow the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and give the peace of mind these tests can bring. We will continue to give priority to NHS staff and care home residents and workers in order to protect our most vulnerable,” he added.

The UK government also has plans to expand contact tracing, which will be supported by 21,000 contact tracers who will work to reach those who have been in close contact with individuals who have developed the coronavirus.

Earlier this month, a NHS coronavirus contact tracing app was launched on the Isle of Wight, with recent figures showing that 65% of the population have now installed the app, according to the island’s MP Bob Seely.

The app will continue to be trialled on the Isle of Wight, with a potential second version being evaluated on the island, before being rolled-out the rest of the nation.

Article by
PMGroup

21st May 2020

From: Research, Regulatory, Healthcare

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