Healthcare staff to access Covid-19 antibody tests 'starting next week'

UK delays rollout of NHS contact-tracing app

He said health and care staff, patients and residents would get priority in the rollout of the first batches of testing kits.

Contact tracing, which involves testing people for coronavirus, tracking the spread of the virus and tracing people who have come into contact with an infected person, is seen as a crucial step in easing current lockdown restrictions and avoiding a second wave of COVID-19. The devolved nations would be given supplies of the tests to use as they saw fit, Hancock added.

But Britain's progress has been criticised: opposition lawmakers said an earlier promise of a nationwide roll-out of a National Health Service (NHS)-developed smartphone app had slipped from the middle of this month.

Speaking in this evening's daily coronavirus briefing, Matt Hancock said this comes after deals the Government has signed with Swiss company Roche and American company Abbott.

The trial is beginning in Hampshire and will be rolled out in a number of settings, including A&E departments without access to laboratories, GP coronavirus testing hubs and care homes. Meanwhile, over a third (36%) respondents said that they would not install it, while a fifth (21%) were still undecided.

Up to 4,000 people of different ages and backgrounds will take part in the six-week pilot.

If the test proves accurate and as rapid as billed, it will greatly help the government's plans for a test and trace system to pick up new outbreaks of coronavirus once lockdown ruled are further eased.

This applies to England, with the devolved nations to make their own decisions on prioritisation of the tests that they will be allocated from the United Kingdom total.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday a "world-beating" programme to trace and test those suspected of having been in contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19 would be in place by June 1.

Britain's tracing coordinator John Newton said the app was not required before conventional track and tracing could start.

Newton reiterated this, saying the app was an "additional component" which could be "layered on top of the more personal contact tracing" by officials.



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