Rapid tests for asymptomatic people to be rolled out

Government to deploy first British-manufactured rapid lateral flow antigen tests for COVID-19

In addition to this, the Government's Community Testing Programme is providing asymptomatic testing through local authorities across the UK.

The new scheme will include all 317 local authorities, with 131 already signed up and 107 already testing asymptomatic people for Covid-19.

Expansion of asymptomatic testing will identify more positive cases of COVID-19 and ensure those infected isolate, protecting those who can not work from home and our vital services. Many of these, including Essex and Milton Keynes, are focusing on the testing of critical workers and those who must leave home for essential reasons.

Many private sector employers have begun conducting regular workplace testing, including retailers, manufacturers, energy providers and food suppliers.

Health and fitness Secretary Matt Hancock said targeted asymptomatic tests adopted by isolation is "highly productive in breaking chains of transmission".

The Department of Health and Social Care is encouraging local authorities to target testing at people who can not work from home during the lockdown.

DAME Joan Collins receives the Covid-19 vaccination at London's Bloomsbury Surgery.

It said regular community testing using the rapid tests had already identified more than 14,800 positive Covid-19 cases.

Business lobbyists welcomed the use of rapid testing for staff who must attend work in person rather than logging in from home.

Lateral flow tests have been "hugely successful" in finding positive cases quickly and is "helping to stop the spread", Mr Hancock added.

NHS patient-facing staff and care home staff were undergoing regular testing, while secondary schools have begun testing workers and pupils allowed to remain in school, with testing in primary schools set to begin soon. This means they are accurate, reliable and successfully identify those with COVID-19 who don't show symptoms and could pass on the virus without realising.

The announcement yesterday by Matt Hancock will make lateral flow tests - which take 30 minutes to get a result - a key way to avoid tightening the lockdown. Around one in three people with coronavirus are asymptomatic, the government has said. By doing this we can help to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, limit the number of people who might fall very ill, and protect the NHS.

The government is also asking companies - especially in the food, retail, energy and manufacturing sectors - to join the asymptomatic testing campaign. We started testing in December and it was so well received by our staff that we're continuing it this year.

The CBI is already in talks with the Department of Health over the possibility of giving key workers in face-to-face industries priority for the vaccine.

But Prof Susan Michie, professor of health psychology at University College London, told BBC Breakfast the country would continue a "yo-yoing of lockdown" without a "test, trace and isolate system that actually works" and warned there needed to be tighter restrictions and tougher messaging than in March to prevent "tens of thousands of avoidable deaths in the next few weeks".

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