Healthcare workers should be screened for Covid-19 every week to protect patients from asymptomatic infection, the head of the Francis Crick Institute’s testing facility has said.
The call comes amid concerns that hospitals are becoming hotspots for disease transmission and evidence that a significant fraction of those infected show few or no symptoms.
“For all our fuss about social distancing we fairly ignoring one of the main routes of infection in front of our eyes,” said Prof Charles Swanton, who is leading the testing effort at the institute in London. “That’s almost untenable to argue you should haven’t been screening and isolating healthcare workers.”
The institute is next week launching a pilot to screen staff at University College hospital to identify asymptomatic Covid-19 cases, but the approach has not been explicitly endorsed by the government and there have been no indications that this is being considered as a national strategy.
The institute’s testing lab has capacity to run 3,000 tests a day, so would be capable of running a screening operation for staff at UCH, if this approach were adopted.