Mass coronavirus testing programme to be rolled out across 66 council areas
A mass testing programme like the one seen in Liverpool are to be rolled out across 66 council areas in England.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he had written to every director of public health in England yesterday, Monday, November 9, offering to make available the new lateral flow tests which have been used in the Liverpool mass testing pilot.
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 on Tuesday, Mr Hancock said 66 local authorities had already expressed an interest in the tests and he was expecting more to sign up – it has not be confirmed which ones have signed up to the project.
He added: “I can confirm that we are rolling out the sort of mass testing we are seeing in Liverpool, and indeed we earlier piloted in Stoke-on-Trent, across 66 local authorities.
“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.
He added: “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.”
In Liverpool, six facilities have been set up, with its leaders saying it had been given a good reacton, with thousands of people tested on the first day of the pilot scheme.
The programme aims to test up to 50,000 people a day once fully operational.
The city’s mayor, Joe Anderson, on Monday said 23,170 people had been tested for coronavirus in the city since midday on Friday, with 0.7% testing positive.