Boris Johnson will tomorrow unveil plans for a £7billion mass testing revolution – cutting the time for those who have to self-isolate to one week if their results are negative.
The move will allow thousands to get back to normal life even if they have come into contact with an infected person.
Tens of millions of fast-turnaround tests will also be made available to areas put in the highest level of the new tiered system of Covid restrictions.
Boris Johnson will today unveil plans for a £7billion mass testing revolution – cutting the time for those who have to self-isolate to one week if their results are negativeInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The scheme will deploy new ‘lateral flow tests’ which have been trialled in Liverpool and can produce results within 30 minutes.
Ministers believe they could revolutionise the test and trace system, which has struggled to persuade people to self-isolate for the full 14 days.
Under a new system, those who come into contact with an infected person will be able to take a Covid test every day for a week.
If they test negative they will be able to go about their lives as normal. After seven days of negative tests they will be released from the system. Trials of the scheme will begin this week in Liverpool, where the Army has been helping to conduct the first mass testing of an entire city.
If successful, the project will be rolled out for NHS staff next month, before being made available to everyone from January.
Fast-turnaround tests will also be used to enable care home visits this winter. Downing Street last night confirmed that ministers hope to be able to allow residents to receive regular visits from two loved ones.
The scheme will deploy new ‘lateral flow tests’ which have been trialled in Liverpool and can produce results within 30 minutes
Named visitors will be tested twice a week. Negative tests will allow people to visit their loved ones and drop social distancing requirements.
A Number 10 spokesman said: ‘Crucially, visitors will be able to have physical contact, such as a hug or holding hands with their loved ones.’Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Trials have already begun in 20 care homes ahead of a national rollout planned for next month.
Care workers looking after people in their homes will also be offered weekly tests from today.
The mass testing initiative is part of a new Covid Winter Plan to be announced by the PM today.
It is expected to cost £7 billion, taking the total bill for NHS Test and Trace to £22 billion this year.
Ministers believe mass testing could play a critical role in enabling society to open up again in the coming months.
Plans are also being drawn up for the development of so-called ‘freedom passes’, which could allow people to attend events like live theatre and sport matches.
But these are not likely to be available until the New Year.
In the short term, the tests will be deployed mainly to help bring the pandemic under control.
Mass testing will be made available to all areas placed in the ‘very high risk’ category of the updated three-tier system the PM will roll out today.
The mass testing initiative is part of a new Covid Winter Plan is expected to cost £7 billion, taking the total bill for NHS Test and Trace to £22 billion this year
Sources said trials in Liverpool had shown the tests had proved effective in detecting cases in people with no symptoms, helping to break the chain of transmission and bring down case numbers more quickly.
Weekly tests will also be made available to people in high risk occupations, including prisons and food processing plants.
Teams of people delivering the new vaccines in the coming months will also be eligible for regular testing.
Twice-weekly testing has already begun in the NHS to help identify asymptomatic cases and prevent outbreaks in hospitals.
Care home staff will have testing doubled from weekly to twice weekly from next month. Care home residents will be offered tests weekly rather than the current once a month.
Universities will also be offered testing capacity to test students wanting to travel home to their families at Christmas
Shops and gyms to open next week... and family can come round for Xmas
Shops and gyms will be given the green light to reopen next week, Boris Johnson will announce today.
The Prime Minister will confirm that the second national lockdown in England is to end on December 2, when a new system of tiered Covid restrictions will be introduced.
He is also close to agreeing a UK-wide Christmas deal with Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon and other devolved leaders that will allow families a chance to see some friends and loved ones.
Shops and gyms will be given the green light to reopen next week, Boris Johnson will announce today
The proposal would allow up to three households to gather for Christmas, provided they meet with no one else during this period. The respite will last for five days, beginning on Christmas Eve and running through to the Bank Holiday Monday on December 28.
Travel and overnight stays will be permitted across the UK to allow friends and families to unite for the Christmas break. But there will be no relaxation of the rules for New Year.
Government sources said last