Health Secretary Matt Hancock today announces plans to mass roll out rapid Covid-19 tests for those unable to work from home during the lockdown.
In an article for The Mail on Sunday, Mr. Hancock said that while vaccines represent the "cavalry" in combat, triggering tests was an "important weapon in our fight against the virus."
Starting this week, more than two million new lateral flow tests from UK company SureScreen Diagnostics will be available to all parts of England.
The aim of the new tests, which give results within 30 minutes, is to catch the “silent spreaders” – the estimated of three people who have no symptoms when they have the virus and therefore do not know they are infectious.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock today announces plans to mass roll out rapid Covid-19 tests for people unable to work from home during lockdown
Few in three of England's 317 municipalities offer tests in the municipality for people who have no symptoms. The tests are primarily aimed at critical employees such as NHS staff.
As part of the new plan, the test will be offered to all local authorities in England and they will be asked to make it available to anyone who needs to leave home to work.
The government is also working closely with the Welsh and Scottish governments to make the tests available.
The army is expected to help with the reinforced program as vaccinations are already in place.
Mr Hancock says the approach promises to lower the R-number – the rate at which the virus multiplies – by as much as 0.6 "to break chains of transmission and save lives".
In his article, Mr Hancock says, “We need to use this lockdown to prevent cases from happening by finding as many of those affected as possible and insisting on complete isolation.
"And we will target this testing program to those who cannot work from home and have to leave their home during the lockdown to give them another layer of protection and help us contain the spread of the virus."
Starting this week, more than two million new lateral flow tests from UK company SureScreen Diagnostics will be available to all parts of England
The health minister, who took one of the tests in his office on Friday and turned out to be Covid negative, adds, “If we do, we know that 2021 will be a year of recovery and a year that this nation comes back on your feet & # 39 ;.
The prospect of regular mass testing has raised concerns among civil liberties activists that authorities could prevent people from making essential trips unless they can produce documentation that shows they tested negative – or that they have a so-called "immunity passport". either in the form of a vaccination pass or evidence of antibodies against a Covid infection that protect against the disease.
However, a health department source said there were no plans to use the test plan for this purpose.
The source said: “We want local authorities to target the testing to people who cannot work from home during the lockdown. They can call for military assistance if they deem it necessary. "
Derby-based SureScreen is expected to run two million cross-flow tests by Friday, but believes it could deliver more than ten times that number in the next few months.
Baroness Dido Harding, interim chairman of the National Institute for Health Protection, said, “Lateral flow tests are becoming an increasingly important part of our testing program as we continue to build tests to find positive cases in patients with no symptoms.
"A British manufacturer offers more security that we can continue to expand our range."
MATT HANCOCK: Quick, easy and an important tool to get back to normal
By Health Secretary Matt Hancock for the Mail on Sunday
We begin 2021 knowing that vaccines are our way out of this pandemic. Human ingenuity and phenomenal scientific advances make it a case of when and not if we will return to normal life, writes Matt Hancock (pictured)
We begin 2021 knowing that vaccines are our way out of this pandemic. Human ingenuity and phenomenal scientific advances make it a case of when and not if we will return to normal life.
The cavalry is here thanks to our vaccination program. We have already vaccinated more people across the UK than in any other European country.
As we speed up the vaccination program, we need to keep this virus under control. This was made all the more difficult by the new variant, which spreads much more easily from person to person.
In addition to the central work on the introduction of vaccines, we must not lose focus on our test system, which we know is another important weapon in the fight against this virus.
We know that isolating positive cases through testing can lower the R-number by 0.3-0.6. This helps break chains of transmission and save lives.
Since last autumn we have been regularly testing our colleagues in health and social services and those who work in critical infrastructures to give them security and to protect them and their colleagues. In collaboration with councils, we conducted community tests in the areas where the prevalence is highest in order to find more cases sooner. We now have more than 400 locations in community centers, village halls and places of worship.
This focused approach has resulted in results that recorded an average of more cases than the national average and that allow us to fight the virus heavily in a local area. Today I can announce that tests for those without symptoms will be available across England and we are working closely with decentralized administrations so that every corner of the UK can benefit from this lifesaving work.
Testing is important because it helps us all find out who has the disease, breaking the chains of transmission. This expansion comes at a critical time. We recently had to put difficult but important restrictions in place to deal with a highly transmissible new variant of the coronavirus. It is important that everyone stay home unless they have a reason why they cannot.
But of course, many key workers cannot work from home. People who keep vital services running are unable to do so. Testing is also important when locking. We need to use this lockdown to prevent cases from occurring by finding as many of those affected as possible and insisting on complete isolation. And we will be targeting this testing program at those who cannot work from home and have to leave their home while the lockdown is in place to give them another layer of protection and help us contain the spread of the virus.
Many large employers are also participating in this national effort, such as John Lewis and Tata Steel, who are already conducting regular workforce tests in addition to the NHS and social welfare.
I want to see more of these rapid tests for employers whose employees cannot work from home. I have asked NHS Test and Trace to work closely with other government departments, employers, and local authorities to make this happen.
This critical national infrastructure for testing will be so important that we are relaxing the restrictions so we can use the confidence built by accurate testing to find the virus, limit its spread, and help us return to normal life .
One of the biggest breakthroughs in our testing program was the use of lateral flow devices that can capture infectious cases and get quick results.
So far, most of these tests have been supplied from overseas, but we have now signed a contract with SureScreen Diagnostics in Derby to supply the first approved cross-flow tests to be carried out right here in the UK. The tests are easy to perform and give a result in less than 30 minutes. I took one on Friday and luckily it was negative.
Two million of these rapid tests have already been made and will be in use starting this week.
This is great news for our country, not only because it will allow us to test more people, but also to help boost UK industry and further improve our world-leading life science sector. As we deliver our critical testing and vaccine programs, using the best human ingenuity to protect ourselves in the long term, we must all play our roles and follow the rules that we know will bring this new variant of the virus under control can .
If we do, then we will know that 2021 will be a year of recovery and a year for that nation to bounce back.
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Nachrichten (t) Matt Hancock (t) Coronavirus (t) Coronavirus Lockdowns