The government has announced that 100,000 “critical workers” will be provided free lateral flow tests to keep essential services and supply chains running.
Key workers are expected to test every working day for an initial five weeks to help isolate asymptomatic cases and reduce workplace outbreaks.
The news comes as more than 3.5 million people were infected with Covid-19 last week with one in 10 being infected in London.
From 10 January, the testing scheme will cover “those who work in essential services, cannot work from home and are at risk of infecting each other” such as food distribution and processing employees.
The government have begun distributing 600,000 packs of seven tests on gov.uk directly to the homes of critical workers.
However, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have highlighted that under the government’s definition of “critical worker” the scheme should extend to 10.6 million of those employed (33% of the total workforce).
According to the trade union, the testing scheme only covers 1% of key workers and is “hopelessly inadequate”.
“Food supply needs producers, warehouse staff, drivers and retailers.” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said.
“Ministers must explain who is left out, and what they should do if they can’t get tested.”