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23 April 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Essential workers can book free coronavirus tests online from tomorrow, government says

By Samuel Horti

Essential workers and their families will be able to book a free coronavirus test via the government’s website from tomorrow, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

The booking portal, hosted on gov.uk, will go live today for employers to book tests for their staff, but will only be available for individuals tomorrow, he said at this afternoon’s coronavirus briefing.

People will be able to book a test if they “have symptoms, and would benefit from a test”, Professor John Newton, direct of health improvement at Public Health England, said.

The service will be free, and results will be delivered by text. The government’s list of essential workers is here.

The programme will help the government move towards its target of testing 100,000 people daily before the end of the month, Hancock said. Current testing capacity sits at 51,000.

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He also said that the government is hiring 18,000 people, including 3,000 clinicians, for a national tracing programme. The programme, co-ordinated through an NHS tracing app, will ensure people are alerted if they have come into contact with an infected person.