Coronavirus rapid tests trial across Hampshire to be expanded thanks to £500 million funding

TRIALS of rapid and non-intrusive Covid-19 tests across Hampshire will be expanded thanks to £500 million in funding.

Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 9:55 am

Trials of a 20-minute Covid-19 test will be increased, and a no-swab saliva test will be used more often to help curtail the coronavirus outbreak.

The government began the trial of no-swab tests – an alternative to the existing invasive, and sometimes painful, deep nasal and throat swab – across Hampshire in June.

The second phase of the no-swab saliva test pilot will be issued to 2,100 pupils and staff in four schools across Southampton this week.

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Mobile testing will be expanded across Hampshire. Picture: Royal Navy

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will also expand its rapid 20-minute coronavirus test scheme with mobile testing across Hampshire.

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The government is backing innovative new tests as a means to ‘get back to a more normal way of life,’ according to health secretary Matt Hancock

He said: ‘Testing is a vital line of defence in combating this pandemic.

The government is expanding test trials that could do away with swab testing for Covid-19. Picture: ANTHONY KWAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

‘Over the past six months we have built almost from scratch one of the biggest testing systems in the world.

‘We need to use every new innovation at our disposal to expand the use of testing, and build the mass testing capability that can help suppress the virus and enable more of the things that make life worth living.

‘We are backing innovative new tests that are fast, accurate and easier to use will maximise the impact and scale of testing, helping us to get back to a more normal way of life.’

The DHSC will also use part of the funding to launch saliva-based testing in Salford, Greater Manchester.

A select number of residents will be invited for a weekly test, with the pilot performing up to 250 tests a day.

The initial focus will be on high footfall areas such as retail districts, public services, transport and religious buildings.

Results of the pilot will determine how often repeat community testing could occur across the country.

It follows concerns that swab tests may not be accurate, with research from Bristol University and John Hopkins University finding up to 20 per cent of swab tests return false negatives.

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