Helen Whately, the Minister for Care, said more than 1,000 care workers have already been tested for coronavirus and more than 2,000 have been referred for tests.
She told Sky News: “The testing is in progress. Over the next few days the Care Quality Commission is going to be phoning up nearly 30,000 care providers in order to identify who they need testing and start lining up people for tests.”
Her comments come after the UK government promised all care home residents and staff with symptoms will be tested; charities have said the virus is “running wild” amid outbreaks at more than 2,000 care homes.
“We have been doing everything that we can to protect those really vulnerable people living in care homes or receiving care at home,” she later told BBC Breakfast.
“We have been working really hard to do whatever we can to protect those receiving care from this truly awful, horrible illness.”
Ms Whateley added that there has been a “global scramble for PPE” and distributing it from pandemic and flu stocks to care providers and GPs has been a “massive logistical effort”.
She said: “It is a precious resource… we have to make sure it is used when you need it to either protect a member of the workforce or protect a patient.”