All of North East to be part of Covid mass testing programme in bid to drive down case levels
Every council area in the North East has signed up to a mass testing programme for the coronavirus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he had written to every director of public health in England yesterday, November 9, offering to make available the new lateral flow tests which have been used in the Liverpool mass testing pilot, with 66 council’s signing up.
Sunderland, South Tyneside, County Durham, Hartlepool and Northumberland have agreed to the programme alongside Gateshead, Darlington, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton
The Government also said yesterday some 600,000 lateral flow test kits will be issued to directors of public health across England in coming days.
The initial batch will be followed up with a weekly allocation of the tests, equivalent to 10% of their population.
Now it has been confirmed every local authority area in the region will be part of the programme after the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) issued a list of those to join the scheme.
Directors of public health were prioritised for the first phase of rapid community testing based on the local prevalence of Covid-19 and expressions of interest to the DHSC.
Lateral flow tests, with a turnaround time of under an hour, have been available since Friday for people who live and work in Liverpool and do not have symptoms.
Speaking on Sky News earlier today, Tuesday, November 10, Mr Hancock said: “Last night I wrote to the directors of public health of all local authorities in England saying we can make available these brilliant new lateral flow tests that give results in 15 minutes, and we can make them available to directors of public health right across the country.
“Sixty-six expressed an interest in the first instance, I’m now expecting a whole load more.”
Mr Hancock also said that mass testing, like a vaccine rollout, would be across the UK, not just England.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck welcomed the testing scheme and said: “Mass testing is the way out of this and it is good this is happening, it’s late, very late in the day, but at least we are getting it now.