East London boroughs to benefit from weekly allocation of rapid coronavirus test kits

British Army Brigadier Joe Fossey, who is coordinating the mass coronavirus testing pilot in Liverpo

British Army Brigadier Joe Fossey, who is coordinating the mass coronavirus testing pilot in Liverpool, holds up the components of a lateral flow Covid-19 test. Picture: Tolga Akmen/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Rapid coronavirus test kits that can provide results within an hour are set to be rolled out across east London.

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced today (Tuesday, November 10) that a pilot scheme, which began in Liverpool, would be rolled out to more local authorities nationwide - including Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Newham and Tower Hamlets.

Under the initiative, each council will receive an initial batch of 10,000 antigen lateral flow devices to enable them to start testing priority groups.

Directors of public health will determine how to prioritise the allocation of these new tests, based on the specific needs of their communities.

This will then be followed up with the offer of a weekly allocation of lateral flow devices, the number of which will be equivalent to 10 per cent of the borough’s population.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “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.

Most Read

“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 lateral flow tests, which do not require a laboratory to process results, will be used in addition to the existing testing facilities in each borough.

Anyone who tests positive after a lateral flow test must self-isolate along with their household immediately and their contacts will be traced, in the same way as those who do so after a regular swab test.

A spokesperson for the department for health and social care said: “Proactively testing asymptomatic individuals will help identify those who unknowingly have the virus and enable those who test positive and their contacts to self-isolate, which can help drive down the R rate locally and save lives.”