Business

UK to launch daily COVID tests in food sector to tackle ‘pingdemic’ By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man stands next to empty shelves of fresh meat in a supermarket, as the number of coronavirus cases worldwide continues to grow, in London, Britain, on March 15, 2020. REUTERS / Henry Nicholls

By Guy Faulconbridge and James Davey

LONDON (Reuters) – Daily contact tests will be implemented in Britain’s food industry workplaces so that staff pinned by the COVID-19 app can continue to work if they test negative instead. to isolate, the government said Thursday.

Some supermarkets face shortages of specific products, mainly those that are in demand in hot climates, and some service stations have had to close after the health app told workers to isolate themselves after contact with someone with the virus.

British newspapers published front-page photographs of empty shelves in supermarkets, declaring a “pingdemic”.

With cases rising to nearly 50,000 a day in the UK, the National Health Service’s contact tracing app advised hundreds of thousands of people to isolate themselves for 10 days.

The government said priority test sites would be established at the largest supermarket distribution centers this week, with up to 500 sites starting next week.

“As we manage this virus and do everything we can to break the chains of transmission, daily contact tests of workers in this vital sector will help minimize the disruption caused by increased cases in the coming weeks, while ensuring that workers do not take risks. ” “Said Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

The contact tests are designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 by identifying people infected by being around someone with the virus, either through the app or human contact trackers, but showing no symptoms in themselves.

WARM CLIMATE LINES

The government said supermarket bosses had downplayed shortage fears, saying the problems were not widespread.

Sainsbury’s, Britain’s second-largest grocery store, said customers may not be able to find the exact product they are looking for.

“Large quantities of products are delivered to stores daily and our colleagues are focused on getting them to the shelves as quickly as possible,” said a spokesperson.

Asda, the third largest player in the industry, said that while more staff were being forced to isolate themselves, the level of absences remained well below what it saw at the height of the pandemic last year.

“We are also not in a position where we have to close any stores,” a spokesperson said.

Product availability was “largely good across the board,” although some stores did not have hot weather lines: beers and sodas, bottled water, ice cream and salad leaves.

But its smaller rival Iceland said it had closed several stores due to staff shortages. BP (NYSE 🙂 said it had to temporarily close a handful of gas stations due to a lack of fuel, with a shortage of heavy vehicle drivers exacerbated by isolations from COVID-19.

Official data showed that the app had told nearly 620,000 people to isolate themselves in England and Wales in the week to July 14.

Britain has allowed some workers in critical roles to continue working, even when “ping”.

Companies must apply for authorization for their staff, and it will only be granted to designated workers in approved workplaces who are fully vaccinated, the government said on Thursday.

Infections had been on the rise in Britain for several weeks, but a vaccination program appears to have weakened the link between infections and deaths, and daily deaths remain relatively low.

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