NHS staff will be offered free hotel accommodation if someone they live with has potential coronavirus symptoms, to avoid them having to self-isolate for 14 days.
NHS England chiefs revealed the measure in a letter to health bosses on 17 March as a way of increasing staff availability.
They also confirmed Public Health England had been asked to ‘urgently’ set up tests for staff who themselves show symptoms of the virus, to get around unnecessary seven-day self-isolation.
Current official guidance from Public Health England states if someone displays Covid-19 symptoms – a high temperature and a new, continuous cough – then all other people they live with should remain at home for two weeks from the point the first person became symptomatic.
In addition, PHE recommends that the person who has the symptoms should stay at home for seven days.
But in a letter issued by NHS England chiefs, it was revealed that staff should be given the option to stay in a hotel if someone in their home is showing symptoms of the virus.
It said: ‘For those staff affected by PHE’s 14-day household isolation policy, staff should – on an entirely voluntary basis – be offered the alternative option of staying in NHS-reimbursed hotel accommodation while they continue to work.’
In addition, the letter added: ‘As extra coronavirus testing capability comes on line we are also asking Public Health England as a matter of urgency to establish NHS targeted staff testing for symptomatic staff who would otherwise need to self-isolate for seven days.’