Covid: Mass testing for local areas in England
MASS testing for coronavirus will be rolled out to more than 60 areas in England, the health secretary has said reports the BBC.
Areas including Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and parts of the West Midlands will receive new rapid “lateral flow” tests.
But not Thurrock although it has been reported that they have registered their interest.
Matt Hancock said he hoped the new tests would find Covid-19 “wherever it is, especially in those high prevalence areas”.
It follows the launch of a mass testing programme of people in Liverpool.
The Department of Health and Social Care said it was sending 600,000 of the rapid tests out to directors of public health in dozens of areas – listed below – as part of plans to expand asymptomatic testing for Covid-19.
It added that it will be up to individual directors of public health to decide how the tests are used.
News of the scheme came as the head of England’s Test and Trace programme, Baroness Dido Harding, told MPs the service was not a “silver bullet” to tackle coronavirus.
The Conservative peer revealed that preliminary data showed a little over half of people – 54% – who were asked to self-isolate for 14 days said they had complied with the rules.
“Much as I would love that testing and tracing on its own would be a silver bullet to holding back the tide of Covid, unfortunately the evidence in the UK and in every other country in Europe is that’s not the case,” she said.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS was ready to start providing the new coronavirus vaccine “as fast as safely possible”.
And Covid tests for students in England, so they can go home safely for Christmas, could begin on 30 November, according to a letter from the universities minister to vice chancellors.
Mass testing means asking everyone to be tested, whether or not they have symptoms.
The idea is to find healthy people who may be infected, but not yet displaying symptoms. They can then be told to isolate to avoid spreading the virus.
Currently, across most of England, people can only have a test if they already have symptoms. But during the Liverpool pilot, everyone living or working in the city is being offered a voluntary test.
More than 23,000 residents and workers in the area have been tested since Friday.
As well as the normal swab tests, the mass-testing schemes use rapid “lateral flow” tests. These also use a swab but do not need to be sent to a lab and can give results within an hour.
In a statement, Mr Hancock said the “new, rapid” technology means “we can detect this virus quicker than ever before, even in people who don’t have symptoms”.
He added: “Mass testing is a vital tool to help us control this virus and get life more normal.”
Earlier, the health secretary told Sky News that mass testing, like a vaccine rollout, would be across the UK not just England.
He said: “The UK government has bought the vaccine for the whole of the UK and it will be rolled out fairly across the whole of the UK with the same prioritisation no matter where you live in this country.
“The same goes for mass testing, making sure we roll that out across the whole UK.”
As part of the latest plans, each local area will receive a batch of 10,000 lateral flow tests, DHSC said.
Local public health directors will then decide how people in the local area are tested, and how to prioritise the allocation of the tests based on the specific needs of their communities.
The initial 600,000 batch will then be followed up with a weekly allocation of lateral flow antigen tests.
According to DHSC, areas were prioritised for the scheme based on the local prevalence of the virus and expressions of interest to the department.
Which areas will get the new tests?
Barking and Dagenham
Blackburn and Darwen
City of London
East Riding of Yorkshire
Hammersmith and Fulham
Kingston upon Hull
Kensington and Chelsea
Kingston upon Thames
Newcastle upon Tyne
Redcar and Cleveland
Richmond upon Thames