Covid-19 testing has been expanded to more companies in England for staff who cannot work from home amidst the ongoing lockdown, as the UK government has urged businesses and employees to also help stop the further spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Businesses with more than 50 employees are now able to access lateral flow tests, which can produce results in less than 30 minutes, Xinhua news agency reported.
Previously only firms with more than 250 staff qualified for testing.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged businesses and employees to take up the offer to “stop this virus spreading”.
“When you consider that around one in three people have the virus without symptoms and could potentially infect people without even knowing it, it becomes clear why focusing testing on those without symptoms is so essential,” he said in a statement on Sunday, adding that firms should regularly test staff.
The government said the wider criteria would “hugely” increase the number of different businesses that are able to sign up, with small and medium-sized companies now able to take part.
Meanwhile, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the expanded workplace testing regime would complement the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in the drive to “reopen the economy and recover our way of life as soon as it is safe to do so”.
The Chambers of Commerce said it would be “working hard to ensure that eligible businesses take up this opportunity”.
Hancock has confirmed that the UK remains “on track” to complete the vaccination of the top priority groups, which cover 15 million people, by mid-February.
Britain aims to offer all adults their first dose by autumn.
Currently accounting for the fourth largest coronavirus cases and the fifth highest death toll, the UK’s total number of infections and fatalities as of Monday morning stood at 3,957,177 and 112,681, respectively.