One-hour Covid tests will be ‘extremely valuable asset’, says Suffolk health chief
PUBLISHED: 19:15 10 November 2020 | UPDATED: 08:35 11 November 2020
Suffolk is set to receive a ‘significant’ number of rapid result Covid-19 test kits - with the county’s top health chief saying they will be an “extremely valuable asset” in the fight against the virus.
Lateral flow tests, which can return the result of a coronavirus test within an hour, have been available since last week in Liverpool where mass testing has been trialled.
Asymptomatic residents are able to book lateral flow tests via the government website before being directed to a dedicated testing centre.
Now Matt Hancock, the health secretary and West Suffolk MP, has confirmed mass testing programmes will be rolled out in 67 local authorities in England with the government distributing 600,000 lateral flow tests to each area this week.
Suffolk is not part of this trial but will still get some tests, it has been revealed.
Mr Hancock has written to all 50 directors of public health in England to reveal his plans to make the Covid-19 tests, which are used to test asymptomatic people, more widely available.
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Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk, said: “Suffolk is not among the local authorities initially invited by the government to take part in the mass testing programme.
“We have, however, just learnt that Suffolk will be given access to a significant number of tests each week.
“This is a new announcement and we expect to learn more on Friday, especially clarification on the numbers of tests we may expect and the logistics of how this can be delivered locally.
“The use of the lateral flow devices to test coronavirus, with results coming back within the hour, will be an extremely valuable asset in fighting the virus.”
Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said rapid testing would be “very effective” in scenarios where the virus could spread, such as care homes and manufacturing workplaces.
He added: “These tests will be hugely beneficial. This is a significant step in being able to support and get closer to normality while we wait for a vaccine.
“It allows rapid turnaround and allows us to more effectively get back to a normal life.”
The news comes as Pfizer and BioNTech announced the development of a vaccine with 90% effectiveness, of which the UK government has placed an order for 40million doses.
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