Britain plans mass testing to curb Covid-19 spread

Britain plans to start regular, population-wide testing for Covid-19 in order to suppress the spread of the virus and ease restrictions that have crippled its economy so fra, news wires reported. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government was trialling a range of new, faster tests that can give instant results and hoped to roll them out towards the end of the year.

“The mass population testing, where we make it the norm that people get tested regularly, allowing us therefore to allow some of the freedoms back, is a huge project in government right now,” Hancock told BBC Radio. “There are new technologies coming on track which we are buying and testing now. We’ll ramp it up certainly over the remainder of this year,” he added.

PM Boris Johnson’s government has been criticised by political opponents and health experts for being too slow to go into lockdown and in rolling out testing to know how far the virus had spread. Britain now has the highest death toll in Europe, at more than 50,000, and the deepest economic contraction of any major advanced economy.

Widespread testing is seen as one way to reopen the economy, which suffered a record 20% contraction in the second quarter and is expected to see unemployment soar when the government ends its huge job subsidy programme in October. “Hard times are here,” finance minister Rishi Sunak said last week.

Britain’s government says it currently has a daily testing capacity of more than 335,000, although in August between 150,000 and 190,000 tests have actually been processed on any given day.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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