Throughout this weekend, hundreds of frontline NHS hospital and social care staff will be tested to find out if they have COVID-19.
Micheal Gove announced last week that increased antigen testing would be introduced to those NHS staff who are working in hospitals and social care in a bid to enable more staff to return to work if they have been showing symptoms of COVID-19 but do not have the virus.
The antigen has been developed in partnership between UK research institutes, businesses and universities.
Speaking at the government’s daily COVID-19 briefing, Mr Gove announced that the testing would begin this weekend and that the testing would be ‘dramatically’ scaled up in the following weeks.
He said that he wanted NHS and social care workers to “have security in the knowledge that they can safely return to their work if their test is negative”.
Mr Gove added:
“This is absolutely crucial to our response to – and fight against – coronavirus.”
Antigens can be detected in the blood before antibodies are made meaning that antigen tests are a much quicker way of finding out if someone has an infection.
NHS staff have been demanding access to COVID-19 tests as thousands of crucial frontline medics, and health care professionals are having to self-isolated as soon as they show any symptoms of COVID-19.
This withdrawal of staff from the front line is creating even greater stress on already overworked NHS personnel.
But in many cases, the symptoms being displayed by NHS workers may not be related to COVID-19, resulting in them needlessly being taken away from the front line.
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