Taxi drivers and other ’high risk’ professionals will all be offered more regular COVID-19 tests under Government plans to improve at 'hunting out' the disease.
As part of the NHS Test and Trace programme, the Government will ask people working in high risk jobs to test for coronavirus even if they are showing no symptoms of COVID-19. The new measure will target people working in roles that require people to spend extended periods of time with colleagues or customers in an enclosed and confined space.
The Government hope the move will identify asymptomatic COVID-19 quickly and help stop a second peak of the virus.
There are concerns that people with the virus, but showing no symptoms, are unknowingly passing on the infection to other members of the public. It is thought that as many as 70% of people who have carried COVID-19 show none of the symptoms associated with the virus.
Whilst many taxis in the UK, especially in the big urban cities, have partitions and a two meter separation from the driver as standard, there are still many saloon model vehicles also used. Private hire vehicles all use standard saloon cars where social distancing is largely impossible.
Dido Harding, Executive Chairwoman of NHS Test and Trace, said during Thursday’s daily Downing Street press conference that more regular routine testing of people asymptomatic will be extended beyond health workers to taxi drivers.
Harding said: “We are now rolling that approach out to other high risk, high contact professions like people who spend significant amounts of time in enclosed space with a large number of people, so taxi drivers, security guards.
“We need to get better at hunting out the virus, both as individuals, if we have the symptoms getting a test, and then NHS Test and Trace needs to get better at targeting our testing in communities and professions where there are likely to be more people who have the disease, but aren't showing symptoms.”