One third of NHS employees and main workers tested in the United Kingdom have coronavirus, with concerns about access to safety equipment

One third of NHS employees and main workers tested in the United Kingdom have coronavirus, with concerns about access to safety equipment


One third of NHS Workers and key workers tested for coronavirus in the UK have yielded positive results, new data from the British government reveals. 

16,888 people who fall into the category of "main workers and their households" and who have shown symptoms or are living with symptomatic people have been tested according to figures released Monday. So far, the virus has been confirmed to have 5,733 — or 34 per cent —. 

Healthcare workers who're not symptomatic and who do not work with people who do not meet the testing criteria of the United Kingdom, therefore the number does not necessarily represent all employees.

The government has been under increasing pressure to speed up screening for NHS staff and their friends and families, and enhance their access to adequate personal protective equipment. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has earlier said the ultimate goal is to provide all NHS workers with testing regardless of the symptoms. On April 12, however, according to his Department of Health, only 14,506 studies were performed, indicating that the government is far behind the target. 

But the United kingdom Covid-19 testing level remains significantly below that of several European countries. In response to criticism about the rate, Hancock said on April 2 that by the end of the month he would raise the number from 10,000 to 100,000 tests per day — saying he was "determined we're going to get there."

On the equipment problem, meanwhile, Hancock said Sunday that the government was "working night and day to make sure we have the right PPE." At least 19 NHS staff fighting the coronavirus pandemic had died, and several groups representing medical workers protested that they had not been equipped with enough PPE to treat Covid-19 patients safely.

On Monday, the Royal College of Nursing provided guidelines that workers were entitled to refuse to work if they did not feel confident doing so: "When the employer does not have sufficient PPE and a healthy working atmosphere, you can refuse to care for a patient as an employee." The union emphasized that this would be a "last resort," and that "you must be able to explain your decision as fair.

Photo: NHS staff are seen in an ambulance outside the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the Excel Centre/REUTERS