LONDON — British Health Secretary Matt Hancock says he hopes that all nursing homes in England will be able to test visitors for coronavirus to allow them to see their loved ones “by Christmas.”
A pilot program in 20 nursing homes in the southern counties of Cornwall, Devon and Hampshire began Monday. Under it, regular testing will be offered to one family member or friend per resident, which the government hopes will support visits when combined with other COVID-prevention measures such as wearing masks and social distancing.
Hancock told BBC radio that the rollout will be “a challenge but we’ve got to make sure the right rules and protocols are in place so that the testing keeps people safe.”
Around 20,000 people are thought to have died in Britain’s nursing homes during the first wave of the pandemic. Most of the country’s nursing homes are run by the private sector.