Fire and rescue staff to undergo COVID testing

Fire and Rescue Service staff in England are to undergo testing for COVID-19  with immediate effect.

This follows an agreement between the National fire Chiefs Council, the Home Office and the Department of Health and Social Care.

The swab tests will confirm if frontline staff have contracted coronavirus. This means fire and rescue service staff who test negative for COVID-19 can return to frontline work as soon as possible - reducing the risk of spreading the virus to members of the public and colleagues. 

Test locations which have been opened across the UK will ensure as many frontline staff as possible can be tested. Additional centres will also be set up.

In some instances, members of the household will also be eligible to undergo the tests, such as when staff are self-isolating as someone in the home is suffering from COVID-19 symptoms.

Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, Roy Wilsher, said: “I am delighted with this announcement; we have been in talks on the issue of testing for some time with the Home Office.

“It is essential that we can test as many of our frontline fire and rescue staff as possible. This means fire services can concentrate on doing what they do best; supporting the communities they serve and assisting in the fight against COVID-19.

“This testing will support the additional duties fire and rescue staff are currently undertaking; including assisting in taking samples for COVID-19, driving ambulance transport, driving instruction, delivery of PPE, supporting the most vulnerable through deliveries, and the movement of bodies.”

In a statement the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “"I can today expand the eligibility for testing to police, the fire service, prison staff, critical local authority staff, the judiciary and DWP staff who need it and we're able to do that because of the scale-up of testing."

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