Families across England with school-going children will be eligible for two rapid coronavirus tests a week when students return to classrooms, according to UK health authorities.
The new measures apply to anyone in a household or support bubble with a child or young person who will return to college, primary or secondary school in England on March 8, Xinhua news agency quoted the Department of Health and Social Care as saying in a statement on Sunday.
“Testing family members will provide yet another layer of reassurance to parents and education staff that schools are as safe as possible, building on the massive increase in testing for secondary school and college students, and strengthened requirements around face coverings in areas where social distancing cannot be maintained,” Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Medical Director and Director of Health Protection for Public Health England Yvonne Doyle also urged people to get tested.
“I would encourage all eligible households to take up the offer of twice weekly rapid testing — it’s quick and painless and could help save lives,” Doyle said.
According to the UK government, secondary school and college students will now be tested twice a week, receiving three initial tests at school or college before transitioning to twice weekly home testing.
Primary school children will not be regularly asymptomatically tested due to low levels of transmission between younger aged children but will continue to need to come forward for tests if they have symptoms, the UK government in a statement.
England is currently under the third national lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country.
Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The UK has so far reported a total of 4,188,827 coronavirus cases and 123,083 deaths.