LONDON: Visitors to care homes in parts of England will be able to get tested for COVID-19 under a new pilot scheme aimed at reducing onerous restrictions in time for Christmas, the health ministry said on Saturday.
With England under lockdown until December, care home visits can still go ahead in certain circumstances, but official guidance states that screens, windows or “visiting pods” should be used to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
“I know how heart-breaking restricting visits to care homes has been, not only for residents, many of whom will feel disoriented and confused by the situation, but also their loved ones who aren’t able to simply hug each other to support them in this difficult time,” health minister Matt Hancock said.
During the first wave of the pandemic, the government was criticised for failing to stop a deadly spread of the coronavirus through care homes, and for releasing people from hospital into care homes without testing them first.
Regular testing will be available to one family member or friend per resident, and, with other measures, such as using protective equipment, could remove the need for screens when having indoor visits.
Care home visitors can either use gold-standard PCR tests, which they can do at home, or lateral flow tests, which are less accurate but give results in just 30 minutes and can be done at the care homes themselves.
Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor