As the UK goes into lockdown to reduce the spread of Covid-19, the Animal and Plant Health Agency has confirmed there are currently no plans to cancel any statutory requirements for TB testing.
APHA has made a contingency plan for TB testing, in case there is reduced veterinary capacity. Prioritisation of certain types of TB tests may become necessary and advice is available for vets to ensure a consistent approach is taken.
The agency is continuing to monitor the situation and adjustments to TB testing instructions may be made as appropriate.
Farmers that are self-isolating because they or a member of their household has symptoms of the coronavirus, should not present their cattle for TB testing. Alternative arrangements should be made for someone else to present them, or if this is not possible, contact your Veterinary Delivery Partner in England and Wales, or your OV in Scotland who carries out testing.
This also follows for farmers who are self-isolating because they are over 70 years of age, have a long-term health condition, are pregnant or have a weakened immune system.
If it is not possible to rearrange the test within the testing window, farmers should ask their VDP or OV to contact APHA so it can be recorded.
APHA says it recognises that some farmers will not be able to present cattle for TB testing during the pandemic, due to illness, the need to self-isolate or care for others who are ill, or due to childcare duties after school closures.
In such cases, farmers are advised to contact their VPD or OV in the first instance, and if it’s not possible to complete the test within the window, contact APHA for advice as soon as possible, preferably before the test becomes overdue.
APHA said it will follow established procedures in theses cases. Whole herd movement restrictions will automatically be placed on the holding and the herd’s officially TB free status will be suspended, as the TB status of the herd will be unknown and therefore a potential risk to other herds.
It is strongly advised that farmers have a contingency plan in place for this situation as the pandemic progresses.
For further advice, visit the TB Hub.
Anyone feeling stressed about Covid-19 and the impact it could have on their family and business can access support from the Farming Community Network (03000 111 999 – 7am-11pm), Tir Dewi in Wales (0800 121 4722 – 7am-10pm), RSABI (0300 111 4166 – 7am-11pm) and Samaritans (116 123 – 24/7).