As businesses plan their return to the workplace
The Private Harley Street Clinic reports a 500% increase in businesses providing COVID19 testing for their employees as corporations prepare to return to more normalised working procedures. In-home and in-office testing is extremely popular as samples are taken by a nurse or doctor and supplied directly by them to the laboratory for analysis.
As businesses re-open, it is likely that new cases will arise, as has been witnessed here and all over the world as restrictions have been relaxed. A second wave is a real threat. Companies must have a response plan – a rigorous testing protocol (for presence of the virus) to ensure that employers can test, track and trace cases as they arise.
Dr Mark Ali, Medical Director of the Private Harley Street Clinic, and a Cardiothoracic Surgeon of 30 years’ experience says: “Understanding the COVID19 status of their employees is absolutely crucial to big business. Dynamic organisations want to keep their workforce safe, and their offices open. They may want to implement a track a trace application that is fit for purpose and benefits their business. We are able to turn tests around fast and efficiently within 24 hours. This means people can easily shield within that timeframe if they need to do so. We have the infrastructure to send nurses and clinicians to people’s homes all over the country, or into large office complexes to test an entire company, or building at the same time.”
Companies are testing with PCR Antigen tests for the presence of COVID19, and in some cases requesting Antibody testing to ascertain status and provide reassurance for those who may have already had COVID19 but been undiagnosed.
NHS testing, although now readily available for people experiencing symptoms, has limitations around qualification for the tests, and in delivery turnaround times, which can be up to 4 days in some cases, compared with a 24 hour turnaround delivered by The Private Harley Street Clinic. It is now widely understood that many people with COVID19 are asymptomatic.
Businesses must also understand that they have legal responsibilities under Public Health England’s (PHE) guidance. The Private Harley Street Clinic has created a free guide which gives businesses advice on how to manage their return to work strategy, and fulfil their obligations under PHE. You can test employees for presence of the virus prior to re-entering the workplace (currently performed by a PCR test on a swab sample). This testing should be part of an ongoing programme to detect and respond to cases and minimise transmission.
In addition to an NHS track and trace app, corporations should consider bringing in their own sophisticated tracking apps. The Private Harley Street Clinic uses a reliable dynamic solution that allows companies to quickly react in case of infection, without the need to lock down the whole office or building. This app uses standalone wearable technology (rather than a smart phone) and has improved indoor accuracy which stays attached to the employee all day. Information is stored locally creating a company-wide tracking system. It can also be given to visitors and is highly accurate.
Many employees are not currently eligible for NHS testing. Businesses should consider using private testing that follows government guidelines. The testing programme should be robust with protocols that are bespoke to the specific organisation and different groups within the company depending on exposure risk. Some may wish to swab high risk employees at a regular frequency, irrespective of symptoms, as it is well recognised that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread are great drivers of the disease. Imperial College analysis suggests that testing healthcare workers once weekly would reduce transmission by a further 16-23% on top of self-isolation based on symptoms. The Premier league, for example, aims to reassure players by testing with swabs twice a week. Care homes in the USA now swab staff twice weekly.