Coronavirus: Screening

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 31st March 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Masham of Ilton Baroness Masham of Ilton Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to test people suspected of having COVID-19 in line with World Health Organisation advice including (1) the elderly, and (2) disabled people living on their own.

Photo of Lord Bethell Lord Bethell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The Government’s response is built around protecting those who are most vulnerable in our society. Testing is a crucial part of the United Kingdom’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are working on multiple fronts to deliver additional testing capacity into the system.

As we have moved from ‘contain’ and into the ‘delay’ phase of COVID-19, Public Health England, together with NHS England and the Department, has agreed we will need to prioritise testing for those most at risk of severe illness from the virus. Our aim is to save lives, protect the most vulnerable, and relieve pressure on the National Health Service.

As a result, tests will primarily be given to:

- all patients in critical care for pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or flu like illness; and

- all other patients requiring admission to hospital for pneumonia, ARDS or flu-like illness

The Government is looking at wider testing for those in less critical states. As announced on 27 March, the Government is working with industry, philanthropy and universities to significantly scale up testing.

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