In a major COVID-19 testing pilot, the entire population of the city of Liverpool will regularly be offered a Coronavirus test.
Later this week, around 2 thousand military personnel are to arrive in the city in order to roll-out a huge pilot scheme of rapid turnaround COVID-19 tests, which will be available from Friday. The Liverpool City region has had among the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the country and is currently under Tier 3 local lockdown restrictions.
Under the scheme, everyone in the city will be offered repeat testing, even if they do not display symptoms of the virus. A combination of existing swab tests and 500,000 new lateral flow tests will be used in the city. The lateral flow tests can rapidly turn around test results within an hour without the need for them to be processed in a laboratory.
It is hoped that large numbers of people will take place in the pilot, with it suggested that the pilot will help to inform a blueprint for future mass COVID-19 testing.
If the pilot is successful, it could be rolled out to other parts of the region and across other parts of the country.
It is hoped that mass testing will better allow local authorities to make decisions regarding tackling the virus, and that it may reduce the spread of Coronavirus infections.
Tests will be carried out in both new and existing testing sites, and through home kits, in care and education settings and in workplaces.
Announcing the scheme, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said;
“I want to thank the civic leaders of Liverpool for volunteering to join the UK’s first city-wide population testing pilot and the people of Liverpool for taking part.
“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.
“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.”
The pilot will start on Friday, after England enters a four-week lockdown on Thursday.
People in the Liverpool City region will be advised by the city council on how to book a test in the coming days.