Schoolchildren and parents could be prioritised for COVID-19 tests, after hospitals and care homes, as the UK government deals with “real challenges” in the system, according to a cabinet minister
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland tells Sky News the prioritisation of testing for some groups such as schoolchildren and parents is “the right thing to do”.
Currently, anyone in the UK who displays symptoms of COVID-19 can get an NHS test for the virus, as well as anyone who has been requested to get a test by a hospital or authorities within a local council.
Mr Buckland said: “The announcement by [Health Secretary] Matt Hancock yesterday to create a prioritisation thing is the right thing to do – he’s going to develop that very quickly over the next few days to explain to us what that looks like.”
This comes after An estimated 8.4 million people in the UK consumed “high-risk” amounts of alcohol throughout June, compared to around 4.8 million people four months previous. The number of people throughout the UK drinking at high-risk levels has almost doubled since just before the nation’s coronavirus lockdown, according to experts.
Mr Hancock on Tuesday told MPs in the House of Commons that hospitals and care homes would first be prioritised for coronavirus tests.
Mr Buckland has suggested that schoolchildren, as well as their parents, could be next in line for COVID-19 tests.
“It has to be the NHS first and then social care, and then I think what we need to do is have a cascading system where we know where our priority should be,”
“For me, our priority should be children in school and their parents in order to make sure their lives are safe and also, importantly, they’re not disrupted in the way that we’re seeing.”
Mr Buckland has stressed that the government had “accepted the scale of the challenge” over coronavirus testing ahead of a potential second wave of COVID-19 infections this winter, as he pointed to the number of virus test sites being increased from 400 to 500.
“We’re ramping up the test centres, we have increased laboratory capacity – new labs coming on stream so we can get that quick turnaround,” he said.
This comes after the Unemployment rate in the UK rose to 4.1% in the three months to July as the total number of people out of work rose by 62,000, the Office for National Statistics said.
He continued saying:
“At all times, the prime minister and all of us were absolutely focused on the dangers of a second wave.”
“We’ve seen what’s happening in France.”
“We’re absolutely on to this in terms of understanding through the autumn – if we’re to get the balance between getting the economy back on track and getting our children back into school – then all of us now have a special responsibility to follow all those guidelines and do whatever it takes to beat this virus.”