Food industry Covid testing rolled out to support sector

Food industry Covid testing rolled out to support sector

Environment Secretary George Eustice and Health Secretary Sajid Javid have outlined plans for daily contact testing for the food and drink industries.

New targeted testing for certain workplaces is being rolled out – with the food industry prioritised, as part of the government’s close engagement with the sector.

At a roundtable with supermarket leaders yesterday (Thursday 22 July), the government committed to putting in place actions to support the resilience of the food supply chain.

Following clinical trial results, daily contact testing will be rolled out to critical workplaces in the food supply chain so that contacts who would otherwise be self-isolating can instead take daily tests.

Priority testing sites have already been identified with industry for urgent implementation this week, including the largest supermarket distribution centres, with rollout to hundreds of sites planned to start next week, with up to 500 sites in scope.

The move will allow daily testing for staff to take place so they can continue their vital work to supplying food for the nation. It will mean workers who have received NHS Covid 19 app alert to isolate or have been called by Test and Trace will be able to continue working if they test negative.

In addition, the critical worker scheme announced on Monday applies to critical roles in the food supply chain. Employers are already in contact with Defra and approvals will follow shortly for named critical workers to attend their workplaces when they are fully vaccinated and the contact of a positive case.

The government will continue to engage with food sector and provide all support needed. Self-isolation is an essential tool for suppressing the transmission of the virus.

People who have been identified as contacts are at least five times more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than other members of the public. Vaccines are highly effective at reducing the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and death, and we are encouraging everyone to get the vaccine.

However, even those who are fully vaccinated may still become infected, including with asymptomatic infection, potentially passing the disease onto others.

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