Anyone over the age of 65 who displays symptoms of coronavirus will be eligible to be tested, Matt Hancock has announced. The health secretary also stated that other members of their households will also be offered access to a test in the move.
He described the expansion of the testing criteria as a way to protect the most vulnerable in society and keep the population safe. Those living in care homes will also be offered tests, whether they are displaying symptoms or not.
Mr Hancock said: “So from now, we’re making testing available to all over-65s and their households with symptoms, and to all workers who would have to leave home in order to go to work and members of their households, again who have symptoms.
“The expansion of access to testing will protect the most vulnerable and help keep people safe, and it’s possible because we’ve expanded capacity for testing thus far.”
While the government had previously announced it had met its target of testing 100,000 people daily last Friday, it has since amended its figures. Prime minister Boris Johnson has now pledged to reach 200,000 tests a day by the end of May.
He added that once the new target was reached, his ambition was to go even higher. Back in March, Mr Johnson said the aim was to be testing 250,000 people a day for coronavirus, but did not put a timescale on the plans.
Elderly people are among the groups most at risk of contracting coronavirus and dying as a result. It’s important to know if an individual has the virus to understand how they should be treated and to minimise the risk of spreading it to other people.
Tests can be carried out by going to one of 48 drive-through sites that have been set up across the country. For those living in care homes it’s most likely to be more convenient to have a test sent out to them for home testing.
This involves taking a swab from inside the nose and the back of the throat, which can be done by a carer. Once the material has been collected, it is put inside the tube provided and then sent away to the lab to be tested. Results usually take between two and four days to come back.