Liverpool is set to see an army-backed mass coronavirus test scheme later this week
Later this week, 2,000 military personnel will arrive in Liverpool to begin a massive testing programme, with hundreds of thousands of tests offered to everyone living or working in the city. The programme, supported by local leaders, is part of a pilot programme for the UK with the hope of curbing rising cases by Christmas. It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson has touted rapid mass testing as a “moonshot” solution for the UK’s battle against the pandemic. It also follows the UK reporting a further 23,254 cases and 162 deaths yesterday, as the country prepares to head into lockdown on Thursday.
The mass testing operation is the first of its kind in the UK, with Liverpool receiving hundreds of thousands of tests by Friday for up to 500,000 people.
Residents and workers will be tested with with exiting swab tests and new lateral flow tests, which can give results within an hour without a laboratory.
In addition to the swab and lateral flow tests, Liverpool will also use new LAMP tests deployed in Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for NHS staff, which can give results in 15 to 30 minutes.
Testing will be carried out by the armed forces in sites across Liverpool, with new sites being set up after approval from local authority leaders.
The UK will go back into lockdown on Thursday
Liverpool is trialling the mass testing programme with the hope it will give a better understanding of the scale of coronavirus cases in an area, which will give local and national leaders better information on how to manage the pandemic.
If successful in Liverpool, the programme will then be expanded throughout the rest of Merseyside, with other areas of the country afterwards.
NHS Test and Trace will receive the new figures daily and deliver results to those tested, with coronavirus-positive people asked to self-isolate for 14 days as before.
The Guardian reported that only 20 to 25 percent of people quarantine fully when asked to do so by the app, and also reported Mr Johnson’s government is pushing forward with plans to cut the period of self isolation.
Liverpool will receive enough tests for up to 500,000 people by Friday in an effort to curb the virus
Boris Johnson has thanked Liverpool for signing up to the programme
The Prime Minister thanked Liverpool for being the first city to trial the mass testing scheme, and touted it as essential to help “identify the many thousands of people in the city who don’t have symptoms but can still infect others without knowing”.
He added: “Dependent on their success in Liverpool, we will aim to distribute millions of these new rapid tests between now and Christmas and empower local communities to use them to drive down transmission in their areas.
“It is early days, but this kind of mass testing has the potential to be a powerful new weapon in our fight against COVID-19.”
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock added he believes the programme “will help us to control this virus, by finding it even before people get symptoms”.
He then said: “Using half a million of the very latest rapid tests, this rollout can help suppress the virus and give residents and workers some peace of mind.
Joe Anderson, the Mayor of Liverpool also said the programme followed extensive negotiations with the Government on increased measures to stem the virus, and added: “We are pleased that our numerous conversations have resulted in Liverpool becoming a pilot for mass testing, which will help to quickly identify people who have the virus and reduce transmission substantially.
“We are seeing a slow reduction in figures in Liverpool which shows we are on the right path and residents and businesses are working together and following guidelines for the greater good.”
Matt Hancock has expressed his hopes mass testing will help give people ‘peace of mind’
New lockdown measures mean household mixing is banned barring support bubbles
Liverpool has one of the highest rates of infection in the country, with 352 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending October 30.
But the council has reported cases are dropping with 1,754 reported in the last week, a fall of 673 from the week prior.
Liverpool was the first region to enter into tier three restrictions introduced by the Prime Minister, which saw pubs and bars forced to close unless they could serve food and household mixing banned.
The region with the highest rate of infection in the UK is now Blackburn with Darwen, which recorded 729 cases per 100,000 people last week.
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