Liverpool will become the first city to trial “whole city” COVID-19 testing in England.
The trial means that anyone working and living in the city will have the option to have a test, regardless of whether they have symptoms. In addition to these tests, follow-up tests will be carried out roughly every two weeks.
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New tests, which give results within an hour, will also be trialled in Liverpool. If successful, the government has said that the test will be distributed to "millions" of people by Christmas.
The trial will aim to identify as many people as possible who have the infection. Significant efforts can then be made to limit the spread of the virus. Testing people without symptoms is also important, as currently, experts believe that as many as four out of five people who are infected with COVID-19 do not display symptoms.
Joe Anderson, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said that these high number of tests could be a "game-changer" for the city.
The pilot testing in Liverpool is due to start this week. Tests will include swab testing, as well as the lateral flow tests, which are the new tests and are said to be able to provide results within one hour. A lab is also not necessary for the turnaround of lateral flow test results.
Testing sites will be set up across Liverpool, at places such as universities, schools, care homes and workplaces. Those wanting a test will be able to book online or turn up to their chosen test sites in person. Invitations from the local authorities are will also be sent out calling for people to have a test if necessary.
To assist in delivering the tests and help with planning and logistics, some 2000 military personnel will be deployed across the city.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the Liverpool pilot, saying, "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."
However, concerns surround the tests set to be carried out during the pilot run. James Gallagher, the health and science correspondent for BBC, commented that the rapid tests require high concentrations of the virus in one's body to give accurate results. Therefore, there could be issues when testing those infected but still in the early stages of the virus.
Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC ministers should set a target date for 2021 whereby regular testing for the whole population will be carried out.
He continued to say, "we know then, if we do that, we can control this virus - and that is the hope that people up and down the country want."
"They feel a lot of despair at the moment because they can't see light at the end of the tunnel."