Rapid COVID-19 testing will be expanded this week as part of the next stage of partnership between NHS Test and Trace and local directors of public health.
Over half a million rapid-turnaround, lateral flow tests will enable the increased testing of priority and high-risk groups in local communities on a weekly basis. Local teams and community testing based on local knowledge will be enabled through the use of the antigen tests, which will be handed out to 50 directors of public health across England.
Supported by NHS Test and Trace, the public health directors will determine how to prioritise the allocation of the new tests based on the specific needs of their communities and will determine how people in the local area are tested.
Improving local testing
The 600,000 tests will be followed by a weekly allocation of lateral flow antigen tests, with local-authority leaders being offered a weekly allocation of 10% of their population.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “Last week we rolled out mass testing in Liverpool using new, rapid technology so we can detect this virus quicker than ever before, even in people who don’t have symptoms. Mass testing is a vital tool to help us control this virus and get life more normal.
“I am delighted to say 10,000 of these tests will now be sent out by NHS Test and Trace to over 50 directors of public health as part of our asymptomatic testing strategy. I want to thank all directors of public health for their support and efforts over the past months to help us tackle this virus, bring it under control and get the country back to what we love doing.”
The testing expansion will improve understanding of delivering testing at scaled and improve local knowledge of case numbers.
The innovative new testing technology can provide results within an hour without needing to be processed in a lab.
Currently, Liverpool has set up 16 testing sites for asymptomatic testing, a number of mobile test units, and is delivering a significant number of home testing kits across the city.
Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection Baroness Dido Harding said: “I am delighted that as part of our expansion of testing we are able to partner with local authorities to deliver these new rapid turnaround tests to our local communities. Building on national capacity of 500,000 tests a day, we are now moving to the next stage of testing tailored around the individual needs of local areas with control in the hands of local directors of public health.
“There has been a huge amount of work to develop these new testing capabilities and I want to thank colleagues across NHS Test and Trace, Public Health England and the wider scientific community for ensuring that we are one of the first countries in the world who are able to deploy these new tests for the benefit of our public.”
Eligible individuals who test positive – and contacts who are required to self-isolate – will be entitled to the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment.