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Frontline workers at Southend Council can now be tested for coronavirus to help them get back to work sooner.
It comes after the council confirmed eight of its employees had been forced to take time off due to symptoms of the virus.
Councillor Trevor Harp (Ind), who oversees health, said the availability of tests is a major boost for those working in social care who in some circumstances still need to make direct contact with vulnerable members of the community.
He said: “This is part of the ongoing work we are doing to support our frontline key workers and protect them, while still providing essential social care services to vulnerable members of the community.
“The extension to cover all local government staff with home testing or the national site at Stansted is also welcomed and helpful.
“Whilst we have not seen a significant increase in absence due to COVID-19 related sickness or self-isolation, and the vast majority of our staff are able to work remotely, we continue to monitor absence on a weekly basis and have a successful redeployment scheme in place to ensure that we can continue to support the needs of our local community at this time.”
Councillor Martin Terry (Ind) had symptoms of the virus during the early part of the outbreak but was unable to get tested at the time. He stressed the importance of the testing but said many in his situation are likely to never know if they actually had the virus.
“It is really important to highlight that the problem with this is post-Covid testing is it is only valid if carried out within a certain amount of days of having symptoms, after that there is apparently no point,” he said.
“This means people like myself are left in limbo where I will never know if I had it or not, so I do need to continue being ultra-careful.
“We are learning so much about this disease and it has been thrown the medical community and everyone else into confusion.”