Commenting, Neil Leitch, Early Years Alliance chief executive, said:
"It is incredibly concerning to see a sharp rise in the number of early years providers reporting Covid cases, especially when the statistics only show the number of reports, and not the number of actual cases. Our latest survey showed half of early years providers do not feel safe at work and evidence of a rapidly growing number of coronavirus cases will do nothing to put them at ease.
"The government has repeatedly failed to provide any clear evidence that early years settings are safe not only for children, but for the adults who work in them. Given concerns that the new variant of Covid-19 is not only more transmissible, but also potentially poses a greater risk to health, government must do all it can to protect the early years workforce.
"This means, as a minimum, ensuring all providers have proper access to testing kits – not just ill-defined ‘priority’ access to community testing centres during working hours – and prioritisation in the next phase of vaccinations. Anything less at this stage is just not good enough."