Which critical workers will receive daily Covid tests?

4 January 2022, 20:04 | Updated: 4 January 2022, 21:55

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Boris Johnson has announced 100,000 critical workers will be given daily lateral flow tests to help keep essential services open as Omicron forces many into self-isolation.

The Prime Minister told Tuesday's Downing Street press conference that firms are to be sent kits every working day from the start of next week.

Critical workers will be able to take a test on every working day and the provision of precautionary testing will be for an initial five weeks, the Government has said.

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Mr Johnson said: "The Government is acting to protect critical national services to keep supply chains open and fortify our NHS to withstand the pressures ahead.

"We've identified 100,000 critical workers in areas from food processing, to transport to our Border Force and from January 10 we will be rolling out lateral flow testing for all these workers available on every working day.

"We will be sending testing kits directly to these organisations and liaising with them on the logistics."

Who will receive tests?

Those who work in essential services, cannot work from home and are at risk of infecting each other can receive a test.

It includes those who work in national infrastructure, national security, transport, food distribution and processing, Border Force, police and fire services, electricity generation and test kit warehouses and surge labs.

However No 10 has said there are no plans to publish a comprehensive list.

The Government said the testing will help to isolate asymptomatic cases and limit the risk of outbreaks in workplaces, reducing transmission while Covid cases remain high.

'Hopelessly inadequate'

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has slammed the number of tests provided as "hopelessly inadequate".

General secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Key workers do their vital work in teams.

"Surgeons and nurses need cleaners and porters. Food supply needs producers, warehouse staff, drivers, and retailers.

"Ministers must explain who is left out, and what they should do if they can't get tested.

"The Prime Minister has known about the shortage of tests for weeks. It beggars belief that he is doing so little, so late."

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Lateral flow tests 'very good guide'

England's chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty said lateral flow tests are a "very good guide actually to whether someone is at that moment infectious".

On PCR tests, he added: "The PCR tests which are the other way of testing, they can remain positive for a long time after someone has had an infection, including beyond the point where they are infectious.

"So the reason that we find the PCR is extremely good because they're very sensitive... they tell you which type of variants of Covid, it has got many advantages, but the lateral flows are really good at helping to determine whether someone is infectious at that point to other people."