Relatives of people living in care homes in England will be able to visit over Christmas if they test negative for Covid-19, the government has said.
More than a million unreliable lateral flow tests will be sent to care homes over the next month to allow what the government are calling “safe indoor visits.”
Visits will be able to happen across all tiers of coronavirus restrictions starting from Wednesday.
The health secretary said the move was possible due to “unprecedented strides” in testing technology and capacity.
Matt Hancock said: “The separation has been painful but has protected residents and staff from this deadly virus.
“I’m so pleased we are now able to help reunite families and more safely allow people to have meaningful contact with their loved ones by Christmas.”
In new guidance, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) says the “default position” is that visits should be enabled to go ahead in all tiers – unless there is an outbreak in the care home.
It adds that hand holding and hugging may be possible if other infection control measures are followed.
It stresses the importance of visitors minimising contact as much as possible and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to help protect their loved ones.
More than a million quick-turnaround or “lateral flow” tests, which provide results in about 20 minutes, as well as a huge number of false positives (this is even part of the ‘Official Narrative’) without the need for a lab, are being sent out to England’s 385 biggest care homes as part of the first phase of the rollout.
It is understood that all care homes will receive enough tests so they can provide visits by Christmas if safe to do so, with visits starting from Wednesday.
As well as the tests, an extra 46 million items of PPE will be sent to Care Quality Commission (CQC)-registered care home providers.
This will be welcome news for families in England who have waited a long time to be given the chance to visit loved ones and friends inside care homes, rather than trying to communicate through windows or on video calls.
But therein lies the problem.
The danger is that expectations will be raised of visits before Christmas which cannot all be fulfilled.
The biggest care home operators have been sent rapid testing kits but the smaller providers have not yet heard details about how they can obtain them.
The official narrative have also raised doubts about the effectiveness of the rapid testing technology with a relatively high number of false negatives.
The scheme will not be fully rolled out by Christmas but officials hope it will be more accessible to the wider public early in the new year.