UK’s Liverpool rolls out first city-wide coronavirus tests

The UK government has said the initiative will last for approximately two weeks.

Everyone living or working in the UK’s Liverpool are being offered COVID-19 rapid tests from Friday, whether they have symptoms or not, as a pilot ahead of an expected countrywide rollout.

The UK government has said the initiative will last for approximately two weeks and Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said it would help save lives, stop hospitals being overwhelmed and help the city ease out of lockdown.

The city has among England’s highest rates of coronavirus, with latest figures showing that Liverpool recorded 318 cases per 100,000 in the week up to November 2 and across England, the rate was 236 per 100,000.

People will be offered a mix of existing swab tests and new lateral flow tests, which could provide a result in 20 minutes without the need to use a lab.

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New test sites have been set up across the city, in schools, universities, workplaces and care homes and military personnel have been brought in to help with the operation.

These tests will help identify the many thousands of people in the city who don’t have symptoms but can still infect others without knowing, said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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, he said.

The pilot will help to inform a blueprint for how mass testing can be achieved and how fast and reliable COVID-19 testing can be delivered at scale, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Mass testing will help us to control this virus, by finding it even before people get symptoms. Using half-a-million of the very latest rapid tests, this rollout (in Liverpool) can help suppress the virus and give residents and workers some peace of mind, said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

There will be a variety of ways to book a test, including online, walk-up, or by invitation from the local authority and results will be received from the National Health Service (NHS) Test and Trace via text and email.

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Anyone who tests positive, using either a lateral flow test or an existing swab test, must self-isolate along with their household immediately and their contacts will be traced.

The DHSC said that the greater the number of people who participate, the greater the accuracy of the local picture, which will mean better local decision-making to suppress the virus to help communities get back to doing more of the normal things they like to do.

The lateral flow (LAMP) tests being used in the pilot are intended to detect the presence or absence of coronavirus by applying a swab from the nose and throat to a special test kit, and provide results without the need for a full-scale laboratory.

LAMP — loop-mediated isothermal amplification — is a new type of testing technology which provides the ability to deliver significant volumes of tests.

In comparison, the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) swab tests are the tests that have been used as the default so far.

These tests look for the genetic code (RNA) of the virus through a swab of the throat and nose.

However, the test only confirms if an individual who is showing symptoms of the virus currently has it and not whether they have had it and have now recovered.

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