Over the festive period and into the new year, the country has seen unprecedented COVID case levels. Owing to this, many have seen issues in test supplies, either with a lack of lateral flow tests and PCR tests. As a consequence of this, further waiting time for test results has caused individuals to self-isolate and therefore unable to attend work. According to the BBC, the government has warned that rising cases could see up to a quarter of staff off work. The Cabinet Office have said that the public sector leaders have been asked to prepare for “worst case scenarios” of 10%, 20% and 25% absence rates.
The impact of these absences has resulted in further pressure on industries where individuals are not able to work from home. The record COVID case levels have had a huge effect on employees, employers and overall business continuity. Whilst some industries are able to benefit from flexible and hybrid working models, other industries like health, transport, education, manufacturing and hospitality are inundated with staff absences.
Whilst the government continue with “Plan B” in light of rising case numbers, the government has once again changed their testing requirements.
Currently, individuals with a positive lateral flow test with no symptoms need a PCR test to confirm their results. Following this, it can take days to arrive and individuals may not be isolating during this time. From Tuesday 11 January 2022, individuals in England will no longer need to take a PCR test if they test positive for the lateral flow test. This new guidance will be effective from Wednesday 05 January 2022 in Northern Ireland and from Thursday 06 January 2022 for Scotland and Wales.
Under the new plan, individuals who receive a positive lateral flow test should report their results on GOV.UK as normal and must self-isolate immediately but are not required to take a follow-up PCR test. After reporting a positive lateral flow test, NHS Test and Trace will contact the individual so that their contacts can be traced.
Industries, where individuals are unable to work from home, have been hugely impacted by the rising COVID case levels. Under the new plan, this should help have better access to PCR tests for individuals with symptoms and for key workers following issues over test supplies. This should help decrease the pressure on requiring PCR tests and ensure individuals can resume their day-to-day activities as soon as possible and return to work as safely as possible.
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