The Health Secretary pledged that all care home residents who show symptoms of the disease would receive a test. For the first time in the UK, the government has pledged that everyone released from hospitals into care homes will be tested, even if they show no signs of coronavirus.
Mr Hancock said all social care staff who need a test will now have access to one.
The Care Quality Commission will now be contacting all 30,000 care providers in the coming days to arrange the testing.
“I am deeply conscious that people in residential care are among the most vulnerable to coronavirus,” the health secretary said.
“We are doing everything we can to keep workers, residents and their families safe, and I am determined to ensure that everyone who needs a coronavirus test should be able to have access to one.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak assured carers that they had not been forgotten amid mounting questions over why coronavirus deaths in care homes had not been included in the official daily statistics.
Since tests for social care staff started just last weekend, only 505 have been screened.
This compares with more than 47,000 for NHS staff and their families.
Age UK said it was shocking that just one in 3,000 of the 1.5million care workers had so far been tested.
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The PM’s spokesman said: “We are now using some of the available capacity to allow social care workers to be tested if they were concerned they had coronavirus symptoms, and 505 social care workers have now been tested.”
He said, “That scheme has only very recently begun.”
The spokesman said it was unfair to compare the number of people being tested with the total number of social care workers.
He said: “The key point is these are tests which are available for people who have symptoms or are concerned they have coronavirus.”
However, critics have said the number of tests being carried out has been nowhere near enough.
Liz Kendall, Labour’s social care spokesman, said: “These are shocking figures.
“The Government urgently needs to get a grip on the emerging crisis in social care.
“Millions of elderly people up and down the country rely on the vital service that care workers provide.”