Home Office in Covid alert after policing minister tests positive

Deep cleaning initiated after minister receives positive test notification at his desk
Policing minister Kit Malthouse got the lateral-flow test result at his desk. Photo: Tommy London / Alamy Stock Photo

By Richard Johnstone

22 Mar 2021

Some Home Office staff have been sent home and parts of its Marsham Street headquarters deep cleaned after policing minister Kit Malthouse was notified of a positive coronavirus test while in the department.

According to a report in The Sunday Times yesterday, Malthouse took a lateral flow test for coronavirus as a precaution while on his way into the department after appearing on morning news programmes from his home on 15 March. The minister had made to his desk in the Home Office’s headquarters before being notified of the positive result.

People are not required to self-isolate whilst waiting for lateral flow test results, most widely administered by local authorities if they do not have any symptoms, although they are advised to be socially distant from others.

When Malthouse received the positive test result, he told staff in the department to put on masks, and drove himself home. The paper said that following the incident, two teams of officials were sent home as a precautionary measure because of Malthouse’s test, and his office has now been deep cleaned and the air vents changed.

The Home Office told the Sunday Times: “The policing minister is self-isolating with his household following a positive Covid test. This was a precautionary test as the minister had no symptoms. The minister promptly left the building.”

The paper also reported that the incident did not seem to have been reported to the government’s central Covid directorate.

Responding to the reports, FDA general secretary Dave Penman said any failure to disclose Covid incidents “will only serve to undermine confidence” as officials return to the office.

He said: “Everyone in a workplace owes a duty of care to their colleagues to ensure it stays Covid-secure. Given the significant health risks involved, reckless behaviour must have consequences and ministers cannot be exempt from that.

"As employees return to the workplace, they need to be able to trust that their employer is being open and transparent about the risks. Any failure to disclose an incident will only serve to undermine confidence.”

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