ONLY 200 coronavirus testing sites to stop essential workers from self-isolation have been opened.
Amid growing alarm at the sheer scale of the pingdemic crisis, there has been a scramble to free more essential workers from the draconian rules.
Essential workers who have been pinged can now get a test to get out of self-isolation[/caption]
The NHS Covid-19 App, which “pings” anyone who has been within 2 metres of an infectious person for more than 15 minutes, has caused severe disruption to Brits despite lockdown rules ending last week.
And business leaders and trade bodies have been calling on the government to take action and change the sensitivity of the app.
Critical services risked being crippled by staffing crises as record numbers of workers were forced to isolate.
More than 618,000 people were pinged into quarantine last week, shock stats show.
Now the Department of Health and Social Care has now revealed that just 200 special testing sites are up and running out of the 2,000 that have been promised.
Daily contact testing using rapid lateral flow tests at these sites will enable eligible workers who have received alerts from the NHS Covid 19 app and told they are a contact and to isolate, to continue working if they test negative each day.
These will be available to the food industry, transport workers, Border Force staff, frontline police, prisons, waste collection and fire services.
Low stock in a Co-op store because of staff self-isolating[/caption]
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Whether it’s prison guards reporting for duty, waste collectors keeping our streets clean or workers in our energy sector keeping the lights on, critical workers have been there for us at every stage of this global pandemic.
“As we learn to live with the virus, we will keep doing everything in our power to break chains of transmission and stop this virus in its tracks.
“Daily contact testing will play a vital role in this, helping minimise the potential for disruption caused by rising cases, while keeping staff protected.”
It comes as the crisis is hitting supermarkets’ opening hours and starting to cause gaps in fresh meat, salad, bottled drinks and freezer sections.
There was a shortage of fresh fruit and veg, fridge food, water, beer and kitchen roll at a Tesco in Cambridge, while nearby Asda ran short of bread and greens.
Police response times are being affected as some forces experience “higher levels of absence”, it has been suggested.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said that in some forces, functions such as control room operations are seeing higher staff absences than the national police absence rate, which is 7.3 per cent.
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This has an impact on a force’s ability to respond quickly to calls from the public, the NPCC said.
Deliveries of letters and packages have been disrupted after a wave of postal staff have been forced into Covid self-isolation.