Rapid Covid testing sites for people with symptoms shelved amid accuracy concerns
A lateral flow test will be carried out earlier this month as part of a community test pilot in Redcar - Ian Forsyth / Getty Images Europe
Ministers have postponed plans to open immediate Covid testing sites for people with symptoms after concerns about the accuracy of the method were raised.
Mass testing programs are being rolled out across the country. 17 new locations will be announced on Wednesday.
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Rapid turnaround lateral flow tests can detect asymptomatic cases to slow the spread of the virus in Tier 3 areas such as Newcastle, Coventry and Walsall, as well as in Tier 2 Bristol.
The tests, which produce a result in about 30 minutes, may capture thousands of cases that otherwise may be missed. However, they are not as accurate as standard PCR tests currently used on people with symptoms of the virus or to confirm a diagnosis.
It has now been found that health officials are considering performing lateral flow tests for people with symptoms to cope with a surge in demand in the run-up to Christmas. Health officials said the rollout "proved unnecessary," but The Guardian reported that a number of public health directors expressed concerns about the plans.
Instead, it is understood that the government plans to rebuild a test center and analyze the results before potentially expanding the system further. This process is not expected to be completed until the end of January.
It takes place amid a growing debate about the value of cross-flow tests currently being offered to students and being made available to military-administered truck drivers to ease disruption in UK ports.
Critics say they are unreliable. A study of more than 7,000 students at the University of Birmingham found that around 60 positive cases were missed. However, proponents of the tests say they can pick up cases that otherwise have little chance of finding them, as many are asymptomatic.
The government will announce that rapid Covid tests will be rolled out in an additional 17 boroughs across England to help curb rising infection rates. The new areas join 106 other areas that were registered as early as December or January for the introduction of rapid community tests, including some locations that are now in Tier 4, such as London and Medway in Kent.
Public Health England scientists at Porton Down have confirmed that lateral flow tests with the new variant of the virus, which is spreading rapidly in London and the South East, "successfully detected samples".
Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged the public to take a test if a public health team offered our plan to take more cases faster.
"Together we will help areas where virus concentrations are highest in order to lower their infection rates and break the chains of transmission.
"About one in three people with coronavirus have no symptoms, so it is important that we expand the tests to identify those who are infected and infectious without knowing they could be spreading the disease.
"We're rolling out community testing at a faster pace. 123 areas are currently planning to participate. If you are offered community testing in your area, I would strongly encourage you to take this opportunity to conduct testing and protect yours." Local community."
The government said that targeted community testing of people with no symptoms was available for all local authorities at levels four and three, and for those at tier 2 who are at risk of entering tier 3, with authorities being encouraged to submit applications .
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