Test Health and Social Care Workers Without Symptoms as a Priority

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Begin large-scale repeated testing of health and social care workers who regularly come into contact with vulnerable people, and who are not showing symptoms of COVID-19. Prioritise testing for this group of people.

Why the contribution is important

As capacity for testing increases, testing carers and hospital staff who do not have COVID-19 symptoms should be a priority. We know that people can be contagious and spread the virus for several days before they develop any symptoms, and that a large percentage of people with the virus may show no symptoms at all but can still pass it on to others. Health and social care workers regularly come into contact with people who may be especially vulnerable to the virus- elderly people and people with complex health conditions and disabilities. Many of these service users and patients live in group settings like care homes, where it is very difficult to effectively self-isolate from each other if the virus is brought into the home. Once residents or staff in a particular care home begin showing symptoms, it is already too late for testing to be much use in stopping the spread of the virus in that setting. There needs to be an extensive program of regular testing of all health and social care workers, whether they show any symptoms or not. Any staff found to be positive would immediately go into self-isolation for an appropriate amount of time. This would prevent asymptomatic health and social care workers bringing the virus into their place of work, it would prevent outbreaks in settings where the consequences are likely to be most sever, saving the lives of many of our most vulnerable. Asymptomatic health and social care workers need to be a priority group in allocating resources for testing- maybe THE priority group. It is the results of these tests that will have the biggest impact. When someone has COVID-19 symptoms, it is sensible to assume they have the virus and take appropriate precautions, unless another cause is determined and COVID-19 ruled out. For individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, testing is only necessary or helpful when it affects what medical treatment they receive. Doctors should be given the authority to decide if a patient needs to be tested in order to proceed with treatment, or if the outcome of a test will not have any bearing on this anyway. It should also be noted that the PCR test is not 100% reliable, and sometimes will give a false negative result, again limiting its usefulness for people already showing COVID-19 symptoms. But as part of a large scale testing programme, any single asymptomatic hospital or care worker discovered, who can then isolate themselves, will have a real positive impact on preventing the spread of this virus.

by LeeSpoonbyn on May 07, 2020 at 01:50AM

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