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UK care home residents, staff unable to get regular COVID-19 tests, says care provider

Thu, 30th Jul 2020 15:59

LONDON, July 30 (Reuters) - One of Britain's largest care
home providers said the government is unable to meet its promise
to regularly test staff and residents in care homes after
problems were discovered with coronavirus testing kits.

Earlier this month, the government announced that staff will
be tested for the virus each week while residents will receive a
test every 28 days. Health minister, Matt Hancock, said at the
time this would keep residents and staff safe.

However, Andrew Knight, chief executive of residential
services at CareUK, said the government told him that a problem
with a test from an unnamed supplier means that it may take five
weeks before staff and residents can access regular testing.

"I am sure many of you will find this situation as
disappointing as I do," Knight said in a letter to relatives.

The testing is seen as critical to combating the spread of
coronavirus in care homes. The health department recommended the
regular testing after a study showed thousands people working in
care homes who had the disease, but did not have symptoms, were
spreading the virus.

Britain has recorded the most coronavirus deaths of any
country in Europe, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government
has come under criticism for an often-inconsistent response to
the pandemic, especially on testing.

The government's handling of care homes has emerged as a
major controversy. More than 20,000 care home residents in
Britain have died with confirmed or suspected coronavirus.

In the early stages of the pandemic, many hospital patients
were discharged into homes for the elderly and vulnerable, many
without being tested.

The Department of Health said the testing has not been
paused but declined to provide further details.

Britain's testing push has previously been hit by problems
with kits. Health minister Hancock said on July 16 that some
sampling swabs made by Northern Ireland-based firm Randox
Laboratories should not be used.
(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill and Tommy Wilkes; editing by
Stephen Addison)

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