Hertfordshire to re-start local Covid-19 testing for key workers

Public health chiefs in Hertfordshire have re-started drive-through Covid testing for key workers – as part of a bid to keep them on the front-line.

Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 9:38 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 9:42 am

In recent days there have been reports of people struggling to get Covid-19 tests – or being allocated tests at centres that were long distances from their homes.

But now public health bosses have stepped in to bring back key worker testing in the county, to make sure staff in schools, hospitals, the emergency services or care homes can have rapid access to a test.

That’s because without a ‘negative’ test any key worker with Covid-19 symptoms – such as a high temperature, loss of taste or smell or a cough – would have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Coronavirus stock image

But access to a speedy test means they can return to work on the front-line as soon as a test has ruled out Covid-19.

In addition, it is said that the re-launched facility for key workers will create greater capacity at other testing facilities in the county for other residents.

“We want to make sure key workers are there and available to work throughout the period of the crisis,” said executive member for public health and prevention Cllr Tim Hutchings.

And he added: “The big challenge has been [testing] capacity and what we are doing in Hertfordshire this week is adding a great deal of capacity.”

Initially, the new drive-through testing centre for the county’s key workers will operate Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm – testing up to 100 people a day.

But by the end of the month, there are plans for it to be extended to seven days a week – offering 200 tests a day to key workers and members of their households.

The tests will be determined using facilities at a Public Health England lab, at no additional cost to the county council.

Key workers who will be eligible to use the new testing service will include clinicians, nurses, GPs, care home staff, paramedics, community pharmacists, healthcare assistants, primary care administration staff – as well as teachers, childcare practitioners in early years settings.

It will also be available to the police, fire and rescue services, to priority local authority staff working with vulnerable children and adults, homelessness or rough sleepers, to prison and probation staff and the judiciary, as well as front-line court and tribunal staff.

Meanwhile, there are also plans for additional testing centres at the University of Hertfordshire, which will operate two days a week.