City firms will start using digital health passports to get staff back into the office

Major City firms will start using digital health passports from next month as part of an ambitious plan to get staff back to offices.

Covid-19 testing firm Prenetics is set to provide health screening to more than 100 companies – including investment banks based at Canary Wharf in London – to help get staff back to work safely.

Employees using its Digital Health Passport will download an app onto their mobile phone, which will store results of their Covid tests and vaccine certificates when they have had their jabs.

Covid-19 testing firm Prenetics has signed deals with around 100 companies including London investment banks to get staff back to work

Covid-19 testing firm Prenetics has signed deals with around 100 companies including London investment banks to get staff back to work

On arrival at the office, staff will scan their phone on a machine at the entry turnstile. They gain access if the green light gives them the all-clear.

The health passport technology can also be integrated into some entry swipe cards and corporate ID badges currently used to access buildings.

Prenetics is already providing many companies with on-site testing and has been using health passports for clients including the Premier League, the England Cricket Board and major film and TV producers.

It will announce which office-based businesses have signed deals to use its testing systems and health passport technology in the coming weeks. They are understood to range from start-ups to banks, healthcare companies and private members’ clubs.

Prenetics will also operate testing ‘pods’ for companies and is handling many of the rapid 15-minute ‘lateral flow’ tests that the Government is offering to fund for all firms with more than 50 employees.

Avi Lasarow, European chief executive of Prenetics, said he plans to set ‘the gold standard for testing and health passports in offices’ when the rollout starts in March.

He said: ‘It’s no different from going into a bank in Canary Wharf when they look at your ID pass.

Our vision is to rapidly scale up to having more than 100 office campuses across the country which people can get tested at and then link the test results to our health passport to access the office.’

Employees using its Digital Health Passport will download an app onto their mobile phone, which will store results of their Covid tests and vaccine certificates when they have had their jabs

Employees using its Digital Health Passport will download an app onto their mobile phone, which will store results of their Covid tests and vaccine certificates when they have had their jabs

Mr Lasarow said introducing testing and health passports into offices is the natural next step to help restart the economy.

‘In the same way we are doing this for major global brands, we want to bring it to smaller companies so they can have a pop-up testing pod, you can get your swab taken, your test run, and therefore grant access to the workplace,’ he said.

‘There is a real role to play for private companies supporting Government and getting Britain back to work, play and holidays.’

From April, once lockdown starts easing, Prenetics hopes its health passports could be extended across all sectors of the economy, including restaurants, pubs and shops. Prenetics’s passports are a partnership with the Digital Health Pass technology developed by IBM.

IBM is also rolling out its Digital Health Pass through Covid-19 testing providers Circular 1 Health and Oxford Nanopore. 

300 more firms sign up for free rapid workplace test kits 

By Alex Lawson senior city correspondent

Hundreds more businesses are to begin testing their employees for coronavirus following a Mail on Sunday campaign.

Over the past week, 300 companies have signed up to Matt Hancock’s workplace swabs scheme, quadrupling the total to 412. The Government will pay for rapid testing kits that give results in half an hour for any firm with at least 50 employees.

The Health Secretary revealed more than 5,000 companies had expressed an interest since he wrote in the MoS last week about the scheme’s expansion.

The surge is a major boost for the MoS Tests At Work campaign, launched last month to get workers safely back to factories, plants, shops and offices – and reboot the economy.

Mr Hancock last night thanked The Mail on Sunday for encouraging companies to take action.

He said: ‘It is important that testing is normalised as part of working life, and so I am grateful to The Mail on Sunday for their campaign to encourage businesses to take up our offer of rapid testing for staff.

‘Everyone who can work from home must continue to do so, to protect themselves, others, and the NHS. But working from home is not possible for everyone, which is why we launched the workplace testing scheme.’

Typically firms are testing staff at least once a week and allowing staff who come into contact with a Covid sufferer to continue to come in if they test negative for seven consecutive days.

Last night, Jaguar Land Rover, Carling brewer Molson Coors and Northumbrian Water joined John Lewis, steel maker Tata, energy giant EDF and other firms in backing our campaign.

Jaguar has been testing employees at its plants in Solihull and Halewood. It said it had delivered more than 12,000 tests with just one per cent coming back positive.

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