Saturday 30 May 2020

Transport workers eligible for Covid-19 tests

HGV drivers and other transport workers classified as ‘essential’ are now eligible to be tested for Covid-19, following announcements by the UK and devolved governments.

All other details of the scheme, and a portal through which to apply for testing, are available on this page of the UK government website. While this article was accurate as of publication on 30 April, readers should regularly refer to this link for the latest updates, due to the rapidly changing circumstances.

Testing is only for symptomatic individuals, and is booked online in most cases (although an online booking facility for Wales was pending at the time of publication).

Testing can be completed either at drive-through centres (by appointment only), or via home test kits. The tests currently available can only determine if a person has the virus at the time the test takes place; they cannot detect whether someone previously had the virus.

Workers can be referred by their employers, or submit a self-referral, depending on jurisdiction. Those who have symptoms and are living with eligible workers are also themselves eligible for testing.

While groups such as health, care and emergency workers are being prioritised, other ‘essential’ workers will also be tested as capacity allows.

In terms of eligibility, “there is a variation between the way UK and Scottish governments manage and describe this”, noted the Road Haulage Association.

“However in both cases, road freight transport workers qualify for tests. This will include all lorry drivers, maintenance staff, transport managers and people who control or plan the movement of goods.”

The UK government website lists “those who keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the coronavirus response” and “those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass” as ‘essential’, but this specific wording refers to England only.

Eligibility criteria varies slightly in the devolved nations, but transport workers appear to be included in all parts of the UK. Access to information for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be found via specific links on this page of the UK government website.

The RHA further advised: “Testing should be done quickly, within three days of having symptoms. In addition, an essential worker and household members should seek tests if the essential worker is self-isolating without symptoms because a member of the household is showing symptoms.”

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