April 28, 2020 / 4:44 PM / a month ago

UK widens virus testing scheme to all care home residents

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s coronavirus testing scheme will be opened up to a much wider pool of people including those over the age of 65 with symptoms, and all care home residents, health minister Matt Hancock said on Tuesday.

The government has faced heavy criticism over its handling of the virus outbreak, from which it could emerge with the highest death toll in Europe, particularly over a lack of testing capacity relative to other countries.

However, Hancock said the government was on track to meet its 100,000 tests per day target by the end of the month and outlined several new groups who would be eligible.

“Anyone who is working or living in a care home will be able to get access to a test whether they have symptoms, or not,” he told reporters.

In addition, he said the families of over-65s with symptoms could also get tested, as could those who are travelling to work. Previously, tests had only been available to patients, frontline staff and those in jobs designated as key workers.

Britain has more than 40 drive-through testing centres and a growing number of mobile testing centres. Hancock also said that by the end of the week the number of home test kits available each day would rise to 25,000 from 5,000.

The most recent data showed more than 43,000 daily tests had been completed, Hancock said.

Reporting by Costas Pitas and Paul Sandle, writing by William James; editing by Stephen Addison

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