Matt Hancock confirms mass coronavirus testing set to be rolled out across Yorkshire
Mass testing for coronavirus will be rolled out across 66 local authorities, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed as the scheme is set to be expanded across the county.
Mr Hancock verified that following the successful pilot of the mass coronavirus testing programme in Liverpool, the scheme will be extended and rolled out across 66 local authorities across the country, including Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and the West Midlands.
The Health Secretary said he had written to every director of public health in England on Monday offering to make available the new lateral flow tests which have been used in the Liverpool mass testing pilot.
Lateral flow tests, with a turnaround time of under an hour, have been available since Friday for people who live and work in Liverpool and do not have symptoms.
The programme aims to test up to 50,000 people a day once fully operational.
Mr Hancock told Sky News today (Tuesday, November 10) that 66 local authorities had already expressed an interest in the tests and he was expecting more to sign up.
He said: “I can confirm that we are rolling out the sort of mass testing we are seeing in Liverpool, and indeed we earlier piloted in Stoke-on-Trent, across 66 local authorities.
“Last night I wrote to the directors of public health of all local authorities in England saying we can make available these brilliant new lateral flow tests that give results in 15 minutes, and we can make them available to directors of public health right across the country.
“Sixty-six expressed an interest in the first instance, I’m now expecting a whole load more.”
The health minister also confirmed that mass testing, like a vaccine rollout, would be across the whole of the UK not just England – despite the countries differing in their approaches to lockdown and working individually to implement new coronavirus restrictions to slow the spread of the virus.
He continued: “The UK Government has bought the vaccine for the whole of the UK and it will be rolled out fairly across the whole of the UK with the same prioritisation no matter where you live in this country.
“The same goes for mass testing, making sure we roll that out across the whole UK.”
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Hancock added the “much more versatile” lateral flow tests would be rolled out in Nottinghamshire as well as “across Yorkshire, the West Midlands, other parts of the North West and the whole of the North East and other parts”.
Queues built up outside the new test centres which opened at midday on Friday, with people waiting around 45 minutes outside the Liverpool Tennis Centre – one of the six facilities – before it opened.
Liverpool’s director of public health, Matt Ashton, on Saturday said the mass testing was showing positive signs after thousands of people were tested on the first day of the pilot scheme.
The city’s mayor, Joe Anderson, on Monday said 23,170 people have been tested for coronavirus in the city since midday on Friday, with 0.7% testing positive.