Britain allows hospitals to discharge COVID-19 patients into care homes without re-testing

FILE PHOTO: People wearing face masks walk past a cue of ambulances outside the Royal London Hospital, in London, Britain January 12, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

(Reuters) - Britain on Wednesday altered its rules to allow coronavirus patients who have completed 14 days isolation without showing symptoms of COVID-19 to move directly into care homes from hospitals without being re-tested for the disease.

Such individuals were not considered to pose an infection risk, according to guidelines here issued by the government to care homes across the country.

Hospitals previously had to conduct a COVID-19 test on anyone being moved into a care home 48 hours before discharge.

British opposition member of parliament Jonathan Ashworth criticized the move saying it had “potentially tragic consequences.”

“We urge ministers to review this guidance and ensure that no one is discharged into a care home without a COVID test, to protect lives,” Ashworth said in an emailed statement

Over three million Britons have tested positive for COVID-19, with one in 20 people now infected in parts of London. The rapidly spreading disease has threatened to overwhelm the National Health Service (NHS) as hospitals fill up with patients.

Reporting by Derek Francis in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin