Government opens non-digital routes for home Covid tests

Written by Sam Trendall on 23 February 2021 in News

Video call service is also available for citizens with visual impairments

Credit: Katie Collins/EMPICS Entertainment

The government has opened up non-digital means through which citizens can order coronavirus test kits that can be used at home.

For the first time, those who are without either devices, connectivity or an email address and are unable to attend a testing site can now ring 119 to order a PCR test to be sent to their home. Postal and telephone services can then be used to return the test for processing, and to deliver results.

Alongside the extension of non-digital routes, the government is also taking steps to try and make the process more accessible for the visually impaired. 

This includes the upcoming launch of the Be My Eyes app, though which citizens taking an at-home coronavirus test will be able to receive live video assistance from NHS Test and Trace staff. The service will launch sometime in the spring, according to the government.

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Already introduced are instructions in braille, large print, and in audio form on either a CD or via a special hotline run by the Royal National Institute of Blind People. Kits now also come with improved packaging for returning tests that is designed to be easier to assemble.

Translated instructions for use of the kits are also available online or in print in 12 languages: Hindi; Bengali; Indian Punjabi; Pakistani Punjabi; Gujarati; Urdu; Slovak; Polish; Arabic; Mandarin; Chinese; and Somali.

Head of the Test and Trace scheme baroness Dido Harding said: “With more than six million PCR home tests conducted, home testing has not just improved convenience for many people who would have struggled to get to a test site, it has made testing more accessible for those who are shielding, self-isolating or awaiting elective hospital surgery.”

PCR tests work by detecting the genetic material of the Codid-19 virus in the sample being tested. They take longer than the quickfire lateral flow tests, as they need to be sent to a lab for examination. The government said the median length of time it takes to process results is 35 hours.


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology


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