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Supermarket, train and bus staff to be offered testing

Supermarket staff will be offered tests for coronavirus as the government expands checks to private sector key workers in a scramble to hit its 100,000-a-day target.

Train and bus staff will also be given checks and home-test kits will be sent to workers at 70 social care providers as officials accept that logistical problems gathering samples are now the main obstacle to testing more people.

Jeremy Hunt, now chairman of the health select committee, urges: “This is the only internationally proven alternative to a mass lockdown that is likely to see many lose their jobs . . . we need every arm of the state, every spare civil servant, every local government town planner and every furloughed administrator turning their hand to the task.”

Mr Hunt has been a leading critic of the government’s decision to stop mass testing of those with symptoms, to which Matt Hancock, the health secretary, now wants to return. On Sunday tests fell to 19,316. The government says labs have capacity for 36,000, but NHS and care workers complain of people having to drive for hours to get checked at inconvenient swabbing centres.

The second of three testing “mega labs” opened at Alderley Park in Cheshire over the weekend. The final one in Glasgow is due to start processing samples next week. Ministers believe that these, along with NHS and Public Health England labs, will have the capacity to hit the 100,000 a day target. However, they acknowledge a bigger risk of missing the target is failing to get enough samples in to test, either due to lack of demand or logistics problems.                                        (Source:  drawn from The Times 21/4)

(Repeated from Weds)

Supermarket staff will be offered tests for coronavirus as the government expands checks to private sector key workers in a scramble to hit its 100,000-a-day target.

Train and bus staff will also be given checks and home-test kits will be sent to workers at 70 social care providers as officials accept that logistical problems gathering samples are now the main obstacle to testing more people.

Jeremy Hunt, now chairman of the health select committee, urges: “This is the only internationally proven alternative to a mass lockdown that is likely to see many lose their jobs . . . we need every arm of the state, every spare civil servant, every local government town planner and every furloughed administrator turning their hand to the task.”

Mr Hunt has been a leading critic of the government’s decision to stop mass testing of those with symptoms, to which Matt Hancock, the health secretary, now wants to return. On Sunday tests fell to 19,316. The government says labs have capacity for 36,000, but NHS and care workers complain of people having to drive for hours to get checked at inconvenient swabbing centres.

The second of three testing “mega labs” opened at Alderley Park in Cheshire over the weekend. The final one in Glasgow is due to start processing samples next week. Ministers believe that these, along with NHS and Public Health England labs, will have the capacity to hit the 100,000 a day target. However, they acknowledge a bigger risk of missing the target is failing to get enough samples in to test, either due to lack of demand or logistics problems.                                        (Source:  drawn from The Times 21/4)