Coronavirus: rolling out community testing for covid-19Coronavirus: rolling out community testing fo

Updated: Mar 9, 2020

What is COVID-19?

Covid-19 is the novel coronavirus responsible for the ongoing global outbreak of acute respiratory disease and viral pneumonia. Covid-19 is classified in the UK as a high consequence infectious disease (HCID); an acute infectious disease, with typically a high case-fatality rate, and for which there may not be effective prophylaxis or treatment.

Whats the situation now?

Currently the UK strategy is aimed at containment. Key to this is screening and respiratory isolation of any person who might be at risk of transmitting Covid-19. Screening for a high consequence infectious disease in the UK is predominantly occurring in secondary care where staff are trained in wearing and removing personal protective equipment (PPE). While the UK has had few confirmed cases of Covid-19, London’s position as an international transport hub with a diverse international population, as well as the broad “catch all” case definition needed for containment has challenged secondary care services in London to screen and safely isolate a large number of people under investigation for Covid-19.

What about community testing hubs?

Those meeting the current PHE case definition in London are referred from the NHS 111 phone service, local GP surgeries, and local emergency departments to new “community testing hubs”. Referrals to hubs are triaged by telephone to confirm that they meet the case definition, are well enough to remain at home, do not need a full healthcare professional assessment, are able to self-isolate and whose home environment is deemed appropriate for safe personal protective equipment protocols (PPE). If all those criteria are met, people under investigation are accepted for community testing. Telephone triage is well established in the NHS and self-isolation guidance follows current PHE advice.

Are there any Home testing kits in the UK?

Yes. They are being manufactured and we expect to have some on March 16th 2020. We are taking pre-orders now.

See also: the COVID testing kits