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Food production workers can now be tested for coronavirus

29 April 2020

DEFRA has announced that, as essential workers, employees in the food and drink industry are now able to be tested if they are showing symptoms of coronavirus, in a bid to help more employees return to work if the results are negative. 

The Government has extended testing to anyone in England with symptoms of coronavirus who has to leave home to go to work, and all symptomatic members of the public aged 65 and over.

Commenting on the move, George Eustice, Secretary of State for the Environment, said: “We recognise the vital role our key workers play in supporting our nation at this challenging time, and have already introduced a series of measures to support those working in the food and drink, waste, water and veterinary medicines sectors.  

“Testing is now open to all employees in these critical industries and to members of their households who are showing symptoms. This means those who do not test positive are able to return to work as quickly as possible.”

Booking the test has been made easier through a new online system. Essential workers can book a test if they are experiencing symptoms – a high temperature or new continuous cough – at one of the more than 42 drive-through testing centres across the country, or receive a home testing kit. Test results from the drive-through sites will be sent out by text within 48 hours and within 72 hours of collection of the home delivery tests.

A network of new mobile testing units is being rapidly established to travel the country to reach care homes, police stations, prisons and other sites where there is demand for testing. The units have been designed to clinical requirements by Army engineers and can be easily set up in under 20 minutes. 

A delivery service for home testing kits has been designed with key industry partners, including Royal Mail and Amazon. The availability of home testing kits will initially be limited, but more will become available soon. This will ensure those not able to travel to a test centre can still take the test, find out their results and return to work if possible. 

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