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COVID-19 update: Lives of cleaners ‘put at risk’ due to lack of Coronavirus testing

Published 24th April, 2020 by Neil Nixon

COVID-19 update: Lives of cleaners ‘put at risk’ due to lack of Coronavirus testing

The lives of cleaners working on the frontline in the fight against Coronavirus are potentially being put at risk because they are not automatically entitled to testing, according to the British Cleaning Council. The BCC is calling for cleaners who are supporting critical industries to be treated in the same way as other Key Workers when to comes to testing.

Last Friday, the Government announced a roll-out of testing to cover more Key Workers but cleaners who are themselves critical and Key Workers were not mentioned. The BCC and cleaning industry figures are very concerned that cleaners who risk being exposed to Coronavirus while working to keep critical industries open have been forgotten.

The BCC is calling for Key Worker cleaners to be explicitly included in the list of occupations to be offered testing. Cleaners who should be offered testing include those who:

  • keep healthcare premises hygienically clean.
  • clean schools and education facilities that are open for the children of Key Workers to attend.
  • work within the food supply chain such as in food hygiene, logistics, factories, supermarkets and shops.
  • clean at Government buildings and prisons.
  • work as cleaners at care homes.

BCC chairman, Paul Thrupp, said: “Many cleaners are making a vital contribution to keeping critical industries open and are, in the process, putting themselves just as much at risk of contracting Coronavirus as other Key Workers. They are absolutely required to be included in the list of workers who are entitled to testing. Failing to offer testing to cleaner Key Workers is a serious mistake which could cost lives. Many people throughout the cleaning industry are very worried. We are calling for the Government to urgently correct this major mistake and will be contacting them directly to demand that this be corrected.”

BCC deputy chair, Jim Melvin, added: “Aside from our highly significant concern for our cleaning colleagues, it is arguably true that by not giving cleaning staff tests, the Government process is effectively making the tests, correctly given to Key Workers, redundant as they would potentially be working with non-tested cleaners. It would therefore also be a waste of valuable tests and funding.”

Cleaners working in critical industries are deemed to be Key Workers. The BCC has been campaigning for all cleaners to be recognised as Key Workers due to the vital importance of high hygiene standards during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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