Care home staff in England will receive two rapid-result tests a week in addition to regular testing to help keep the new coronavirus variant at bay.
Health officials have brought forward plans for care home staff to receive bi-weekly lateral flow device tests (LFDs) as concerns grow about the rapidly spreading strain.
Staff in all tiers will be given two LFDs, one mid-week, in addition to the weekly PCR tests.
And if a case of coronavirus is identified in a care home in a Tier 4 area, all staff members will be tested daily with LFDs for a week.
Public Health England confirmed earlier on Wednesday that LFDs can detect the new variant.
The rollout of rapid testing is being supported by a £149 million grant after care providers raised concerns about the added pressures associated with using the tests and enabling safe visits.
The National Care Forum, which represents not-for-profit providers, has previously said the Government’s infection control fund (ICF) was not sufficient to meet care homes’ virus-related costs.
The money will pay for care homes to set up safe testing areas, provide staff training and contribute towards staff time spent on administering and receiving the tests between now and March.
Homes will have to use a room for tests to be undertaken, another room for people to wait half-an-hour for their results, and ensure each test is registered.
It will also help care homes in Tiers 1, 2 and 3 meet additional costs associated with visits, so residents can see their loved ones.
It was announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock at a Downing Street Press conference on Wednesday.