Health Care

Matt Hancock announces £500m funding to increase Covid-19 testing capacity

Matt Hancock announces £500m funding to increase Covid-19 testing capacity”

"It's my intention to deploy as much testing as possible using the new testing innovations that are coming on stream and to deploy it as widely as possible following clinical advice", Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons earlier in the week.

Britain is putting 500 million pounds ($666 million) into trials of rapid COVID-19 tests and into population-testing for the disease, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Test and Trace figures show 6,732 new cases were confirmed between 20 - 26 August, which is an increase of 6 per cent from the previous week. That's the lowest since the system was launched. Of course there are operational challenges from time to time but it works well.

She told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "Fundamentally, it is because the demand for testing has grown so fast and so much".

Professor Alan McNally, from the University of Birmingham, told Today: "I don't think the time is right".

More news: Coronavirus: Scuffles at anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne

In some countries, such as France, people are encouraged to get tests when they are in any doubt as to whether they might have COVID-19, with or without symptoms.

Mr Hancock would not put a date on when mass testing may be rolled out nationwide, but said having a normal Christmas was dependent on it unless a vaccine was developed.

A saliva test has been approved for use on an emergency basis in the United States after a trial on National Basketball Association players and staff, while Italy, Belgium and France are also trialling saliva tests. A phone app once touted by the government as a key contact-tracing tool is still in the testing stage. It will also show how regular repeat testing within a community could be scaled up across the country.

However, the government has come in for criticism after some who tried to book tests were reportedly told to travel many miles as capacity is directed where the need is greatest.

Deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said it is "vital" that improvements are made to the system as we approach the winter months, adding: "It is deeply worrying to see more people test positive for Covid-19 this week, with the number of positive cases in England now the highest since May".

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