Key workers and their families are now eligible for a coronavirus test under an expansion of the testing programme announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Essential workers, and anyone in their household, will now be eligible if they have symptoms of Covid-19.

Key workers on the list are the same as those for access to schools, and include NHS and social care workers, police officers, teachers, social workers, those in the justice system, undertakers, some in local government, supermarket and food production workers, journalists, transport workers and some people in utilities and IT.

Mr Hancock set out his plans for ‘easier, faster and simpler’ testing so that more people can access a Covid-19 test to tell them whether they currently have the virus.

He said people can register for a test on the website.

People will then receive a text or email with an appointment at a drive-through centre or can request a home test kit, although the latter are currently in limited supply.

A help desk has been established to help the process, while mobile units run by the Army are travelling around the country to where they are needed, such as care homes.

At the daily Downing Street briefing on Thursday (April 23), Mr Hancock said the capacity for carrying out tests was now ‘ahead of our plans’, with the ability to carry out more than 51,000 tests a day.

“Because capacity has now increased so substantially, we are now able to expand who can get the tests,” he said.

“Our ultimate goal is that everyone who could benefit from a test gets a test.”

Essential workers will be able to book coronavirus tests direct, while companies will also be able to book them for employees.

Mr Hancock said: “From today, employers of essential workers will be able to go on to get a test for any of their staff.

“From tomorrow, any essential workers who need a test will be able to book an appointment on themselves, directly.

“It’s all part of getting Britain back on her feet.”