Community testing programme promised for Tier 3 areas

Areas of England with the toughest coronavirus restrictions will be offered mass community testing to help control the spread of Covid-19.

By Iain Lynn
Thursday, 26th November 2020, 6:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th November 2020, 6:08 pm

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Liverpool – where 300,000 people have been tested in a pilot scheme – showed how effective the measure can be.

Downing Street was unable to give details of how the scheme would apply for the 23 million people who will be in Tier 3 areas.

Mr Hancock told MPs the testing regime had helped Liverpool move from Tier 3 before the lockdown to Tier 2 next week.

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British Army soldiers, 1st battalion Coldstream Guards, staff a coronavirus testing centre set up at the Merseyside Caribbean Council Community Centre in Liverpool, north west England, on November 10, 2020 during a city-wide mass testing pilot operation

The effort was supported by about 2,000 troops who helped establish and staff testing sites.

Mr Hancock said: “It has not been easy and, sadly, many people in Liverpool have lost their lives to Covid, but thanks to people sticking to the rules and to the huge effort of community testing, Liverpool’s cases are now low enough for the whole Liverpool city region to go into Tier 2.

“This shows what we can do when we work together.”

The Health Secretary told MPs the Government was now launching a “major community testing programme” open to all Tier 3 authorities.

“We will work with local authorities on a plan to get tests where they are needed most and how we can get as many people as possible to come forward and get certainty about their condition,” he said.

“The more people who get tested, the quicker a local area can move down through the tiers and get life closer to normal.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said details of the plan would be published next week.

“Local authorities that fall into Tier 3 will be able to apply for support from NHS Test and Trace and the armed forces to deliver a six-week, rapid community testing programme,” the spokesman said.

“That will include access to a supply of lateral flow tests, support with planning and logistics and funding and communication support.”

Around 14,000 military personnel stand ready to help out in the coronavirus effort over the winter.

Personnel including specialist planners, medics and logisticians are ready to assist with the response to the outbreak, the Government said.

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