As we head towards autumn our schools have opened and the majority of staff have now returned to the office. We feel we are making progress and the new normal is starting to become normal for many of us. As part of this new way of working we are all looking to manage and balance our risks and as part of that we rely on testing. However, we are now facing a COVID test shortage and this could have quite an impact on how we can mitigate against COVID and ensure business continuity.
Some of us are facing even greater challenges being in or close to an area of lockdown. This makes any COVID test shortage even more of a challenge when it comes to ensuring the safety of our staff in the workplace.
Considerations for ensuring business continuity
Of all of this will have an impact on how we can continue to do business. Staff who share a household with another person who has a suspected infection will need to isolate, if they cannot determine the difference between suspected and actual infections then a much larger number of people will be excluded from the workplace. Similarly, parents with children who have possible cases who are unable to get a test will need to work from home whilst their child is excluded from school.
Whilst we cannot provide a solution to the current crisis in terms of test availability we can take actions to help mitigate the risk within our own businesses by;
- Ensuring that we continue to maintain social distances of at least two meters – without this, you’ll be having to cope with multiple people absent from work rather than just those affected (or suspected);
- Putting in place a possible private test – if this person is going to have a large impact on productivity perhaps you can pay for a test in order to have certainty? (if you do select this route use a reputable supplier and ensure that the test bears a CE marking);
- Enforcing good social distancing and hygiene throughout the workplace and particularly in rest and meal areas – even more so as the weather cools and fewer people take their breaks outside;
- Keeping an eye on your staff and others through regular temperature checks on entry to the workplace.
- Remind all staff of the 3 key symptoms they should look out for,
- a fever
- a new continuous cough
- a loss of smell or taste
- Visit https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/antigen/name or call 119 as soon as you can to try and get a test.
As the chart on community testing capacity illustrates, we’re nearly at testing capacity. Our investment in laboratories which can process these tests was rapid and capacity was adequate earlier in the summer. However, demand has now outstripped supply and the many testing centres you can see whilst traveling the country can perform additional tests but cannot get them processed until greater bandwidth becomes available. This is promised but is still some weeks away so we need to plan what we can do ourselves now.
Finally, don’t think that the UK is lagging badly behind our neighbours, we’re currently testing 2.8 people of 1,000. That ahead of both France (2.1) and Germany (1.8).