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Operation Moonshot to mass test for Covid will start trials within weeks, says Boris

MILLIONS of fast Covid tests will be trialled within weeks under Operation Moonshot, the Prime Minister has announced.

Boris Johnson said that some new, faster Covid-19 tests have proven “highly effective” but warned it would take time to roll them out.

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Boris Johnson said fast Covid tests will be rolled out within weeks

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Boris Johnson said fast Covid tests will be rolled out within weeksCredit: PA:Press Association

He said that the UK is developing the capacity to manufacture millions of new fast turnaround tests for coronavirus.

Some of the saliva tests could deliver results in just 15 minutes, he told a No10 press conference today.

Mr Johnson said: “We have already bought millions of these tests, some of which are very simple – meaning you wipe the swab inside your mouth – and can give a result as quickly as in 15 minutes.

“Some of these fast tests work with saliva and we are already using these in hospitals. 

“We have started building the infrastructure for domestic manufacture of these tests, ensuring that Britain has the ability to produce millions of fast tests here. 

“Over the next few weeks we will start distributing and trialling these tests across the country.

“This will enable us to do quick turnaround tests on NHS and care home staff much more frequently.

“By testing more frequently and quickly than ever before, we can hope we can help prevent the virus entering and spreading through care homes.

“We will be able to test students in universities with outbreaks, as well as children in schools, helping us to keep education open safely through the winter.”

‘IT WILL TAKE TIME’

The new fast turnaround tests would be made available to local public health directors to control localised outbreaks, he said.

However, the PM warned that it would “take time” to develop the system to work safely.

“No country in the world is regularly testing millions of people, so we need to take the time to establish how to do this effectively and safely, and to build the logistics and distribution operation necessary for a large-scale operation across the country,” he said.

“We won’t be able to use testing to get business back to normal quickly. In time, we want to use tests to open, and keep open, more parts of the economy that have sadly been closed.

“But it is crucial that we make sure such systems work safely and, I must level with you, that it will take time to get this right before many organisations can buy and operate these tests themselves.”

This chart shown during the press conference shows the weekly intensive care admission rates for Covid-19 patients in England by age

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This chart shown during the press conference shows the weekly intensive care admission rates for Covid-19 patients in England by ageCredit: gov.uk
This regional heat map shows that the North West and North East remain Covid hotspots

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This regional heat map shows that the North West and North East remain Covid hotspotsCredit: gov.uk

Turning to the latest raft of increased coronavirus restrictions for parts of the country, the PM said it is the “right and responsible” measure.

“Without action there is no doubt that our NHS would soon be struggling to treat the sheer number of people seriously ill with Covid,” he said.

“Non-Covid treatments and surgeries would need to be cancelled to cope and many more people would die.

“So, taking action is the right and responsible thing to do and it is backed up by significant support for areas on very high alert.”

Mr Johnson said he would resist another national lockdown “if at all possible” as he comes under pressure to impose a short “circuit-breaker” across the country.

“Some have argued that we should introduce a national lockdown instead of targeted local action and I disagree,” he said.

“Closing businesses in Cornwall where transmission is low will not cut transmission in Manchester.

“So, while I can’t rule anything out, if at all possible, I want to avoid another national lockdown with the damaging health, economic and social effects it would have.”

R RATE HOPES

He also said he hopes the most stringent Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions can be lifted as quickly as possible.

“The amount by which we need to reduce the R is not as big as it was right back in the beginning of the spread of this disease,” the PM said.

“It we all work together on the measures we have outlined we can definitely do it.

“I’d like to see Lancashire and everywhere else coming out of Tier 3 as fast as possible.”

It comes after the Government announced that a further 1.5 million people in England will be placed under the toughest coronavirus restrictions this weekend as Lancashire moves into Tier 3.

The Government said the move was to stem the “unrelenting rise” in Covid-19 cases in the North West county.

Pubs and bars across Lancashire will close unless they serve food and alcohol as part of a sit-down meal from Saturday, while stricter restrictions on socialising will also come into force.

People will not be able to mix with others in any indoor setting or private garden, as well as in most outdoor hospitality venues.

Casinos, bingo halls, bookmakers, betting shops, soft play areas and adult gaming centres will be forced to shut, while car boot sales will also be banned.

But gyms will remain open despite them being closed in the Liverpool City Region – the only other area of England under Tier 3 restrictions.

Sir Patrick Vallance explains how the coronavirus R rate number is rising

Source: The Sun

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