Rapid Covid-19 tests will be rolled out to 17 more local council areas across England as part of efforts to curb rising infection rates.
The quick turnaround lateral flow tests will be used to help detect asymptomatic cases with the aim of slowing the spread of the virus in both Tier 3 and Tier 2 areas.
106 areas already signed up
The 17 new areas will join 106 others that have already signed up to roll out rapid community testing in December and January, including some which are now in Tier 4, such as London and Medway in Kent.
Public Health England (PHE) scientists at Porton Down have confirmed that lateral flow tests have “successfully detected samples” of the new variant of Covid-19, which is spreading rapidly in London and South East England. The new strain is said to be 70 per cent more infectious than previous mutations.
The government has said that targeted community testing of people with no symptoms will help to identify positive cases more quickly and break chains of transmission. The tests are to be made available for all local authorities in Tier 4, Tier 3 and Tier 2 areas that are at risk of being moved into tougher restrictions.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has urged members of the public to take a test if they are offered one by local public health teams.
He said, “Working together we will help areas where levels of the virus are highest to reduce their infection rates and break the chains of transmission.
“Roughly one in three people with coronavirus show no symptoms and so it’s essential we broaden testing to help identify those who are infected and infectious, unaware they may be spreading the disease.
“We are rolling out community testing more widely at a rapid pace, with 123 areas now planning to take part.
“If you are offered community testing in your local area, I would strongly encourage you to take up this opportunity to get tested and protect your local community.”
Where will testing be available?
The following 17 additional areas will be rolling out community testing:
- County Durham
- North Tyneside
- Redcar and Cleveland
- South Gloucestershire
- South Tyneside
- North Somerset