Frontline NHS workers will be tested for coronavirus from this week in a huge boost for hospital staff numbers across the country.

Doctors and nurses are under strain due to huge numbers of staff being forced to stay at home if they show Covid-19 symptoms, such as a temperature or cough.

But the new tests will offer hope for thousands as the government prepares to bolster NHS numbers ahead of the peak of the pandemic.

Amazon and Royal Mail will help with logistics, while Boots has been supporting initial trials by supplying volunteer healthcare clinicians as testers.

The Government has confirmed the service will be free and would "help end the uncertainty of whether NHS staff need to stay at home".

Tests would initially be focused on those working in intensive care, A&E, GP practices and staff running ambulance services.

Those who test negative for coronavirus will be able to return to work, said the Department for Health and Social Care.

What about home testing?

The Government says the three companies will continue this support as the testing rolls out across the UK.

A spokesperson told the ECHO that coronavirus testing will not be done at Boots stores and these tests will not be available over the counter or for purchase online from any retailers.

There has not been an announcement on when home testing kits are likely to be dished out across the country.

Will Boots offer in-store coronavirus tests?

Seb James, UK and Ireland managing director of Boots, said the high street chain would assist in delivering tests but confirmed they would not be done in-store.

"We will work with the NHS to recruit trained professionals - both Boots colleagues and from the wider community," he said.

Boots will not offer in-store coronavirus tests

"I am sure there will be many trained healthcare clinicians and students who will step forward to support our dedicated NHS colleagues.

"Locations are being defined but will be spread across the UK - they will not however be in Boots stores, allowing our colleagues to focus on supporting our customers and patients."

Testing in hot spot areas

The Government hopes to open a laboratory to analyse samples this weekend, with the focus to be on carrying out about 800 tests at designated sites in hot-spot areas such as London and then scaled up as the weeks go on.

Companies involved in administering and processing the tests include Amazon, Boots and Royal Mail, while the Wellcome Trust and universities will also help to increase testing capacity for frontline workers.

Thermo Fisher Scientific and Randox laboratories, which make the testing kits, will provide logistical and technical support.

Amazon will help supply NHS workers with the testing kits

How are Amazon and Royal Mail helping?

Both Amazon and Royal Mail will help deliver and transport the testing kits to NHS workers across the country.

Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon, said: "We believe our role serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one, and we are committed to working closely with the Government to identify ways in which we can support efforts to respond to the crisis."

Rico Back, Royal Mail Group Chief Executive Officer, said: "Royal Mail fully understands the devastating impact of the coronavirus outbreak on families, businesses and communities across the UK. We have a responsibility to help people stay connected, especially in this crisis when many are unable to leave their home.

It is something that has, at some point, touched all our lives.

From cradle to grave, the National Health Service, and the incredible professionals within it who care for us, is a part of British life.

Today, more than ever, we should cherish those who dedicate themselves to our care, heedless of their own health as they work tirelessly to care for people in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nurses and others - employed by the NHS and any other part of health and care - we have never needed them more.

So let’s show them some love, and create a living map of gratitude from every corner of Britain.

Click HERE to drop a heart on the map, and show you appreciate the efforts undertaken daily in the NHS.

Thanks a million, NHS workers - we love you.

"The Universal Postal Service provides a lifeline for businesses and communities across the UK, and never more so than at this difficult time.

"We already deliver vital Government mail in relation to coronavirus. We are working closely with pharmacies and NHS trusts across the UK.

"And we are delivering many prescriptions and hospital appointments. This is of key importance for us. We will safely deliver these vital tests, a key step forward in the nation’s battle against the virus."

'Protecting the most vulnerable'

Speaking yesterday, at a press conference at Downing Street, Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: "I can say that today we can announce we will be rolling out staff testing across the NHS, beginning next week and starting with the critical care nurses, other staff in intensive care, emergency departments, ambulance services, GPs.

"And as the testing volumes increase, we want to widen that to a wider range of essential public service workers, including our social care services, as well as continuing of course with our patient testing which is so vital."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has been diagnosed with coronavirus, said: "We want to save lives, protect the most vulnerable, and relieve pressure on our NHS.

"Healthcare staff are key in our fight against the virus and I want to ensure that any frontline NHS or care worker who has symptoms of coronavirus or who has a family member with symptoms can be tested quickly and reliably."

Send some love to our NHS heroes on the NHS Heroes website.