Teaching staff and healthcare workers considered to be essential are to be given priority at coronavirus testing centres from Monday, the health ministry has confirmed.
The aim is to test essential workers in the morning so they have their results in the afternoon and know whether or not they can continue to go to work, the ministry said. They will be able to use a special phone line to make an appointment which will guarantee priority.
‘It is important that only people considered priority cases should use this phone number,’ the ministry said in a statement. ‘Therefore there will be two checks, one on the phone and one at the test centre.’
The new situation will apply to primary and secondary school workers who cannot be replaced, and whose classes would be sent home if there was no supervision.
In healthcare, nursing and other staff whose services are essential for patient care and the continuity of care will be given priority, if there is no suitable replacement, the ministry said.
The priority system has been introduced because testing centres can no longer cope with the demand, leading to delays for both appointments and results.
Some 200,000 tests were carried out last week, but many centres are working at full capacity and labs are unable to cope with processing swabs within the required 48 hours.
Ministers say they expect the capacity shortage to have been solved by October.
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