The West Belfast employer of a key worker has been waiting a full week to apply for a Coronavirus test for their member of staff, after the worker's partner tested positive for Covid-19 last Saturday.
Both the employee and partner have been following strict government guidelines and have been self-isolating since May 2.
However, the employer applied for access to an online portal, provided by Health & Social Care (HSC) through which an employer of key workers must apply to have a worker tested for Coronavirus, but, after receiving an email confirming receipt of the application for access to the portal, the employer has still not received log-in details, nor notification of when a test might take place.
As a key worker the employee is keen to return to work, but seven days on and there is still no test date.
Last week British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set an ambitious target of 200,000 tests a day by the end of the month. Last week the UK government claimed that it had met its previous target of 100,000 Covid-19 tests a day.
The employer, who works in the financial sector, said: “We have been deemed key workers because we are managing people’s financial situations at this difficult time, and are facing a lot of pressure and stress, so you would think that there would be a quicker way to test people.
“It’s not just our business, this is happening in other sectors out there where people who are essential or key workers are having to self-isolate for more than a week waiting on a test.
“When our employee told us about their partner testing positive for the virus, we followed all government guidelines, registered for the portal and deep-cleaned the premises, but one week on and we still don’t know if our employee has the virus or not. It is of deep concern not only to the member of staff involved but to myself and all my other employees who have been working in the same team.
“If this is how long a key worker is waiting, how long are other people waiting?”
The HSC Public Health Agency website states: “Coronavirus testing is now available for essential or key workers who are self-isolating or because a member of their household has symptoms.
“Testing is targeted at those essential or key workers who are self-isolating because they are symptomatic, or have household members who are symptomatic, to help enable essential or key workers to return to work as soon as safely possible.”
It says the online employer portal has been established to improve the process of booking tests.
However, it adds: “This portal is experiencing high volumes of demand and access is being carefully regulated to ensure the system can continue to function effectively.”