Hundreds of frontline NHS staff will be tested to find out if they have coronavirus by the end of the weekend.
Michael Gove announced that increased “antigen testing”, developed in partnership between UK businesses, research institutes and universities, will start being rolled out “immediately” to those working in hospitals and social care.
Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing, cabinet minister Mr Gove said that the testing would “dramatically” scale up next week, allowing those working in health and social care to “have security in the knowledge that they can safely return to work if their test is negative”.
“This is absolutely crucial to our response to – and fight against – coronavirus,” he added.
Appearing alongside Mr Gove in Downing Street on Friday were NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens and the deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries.
Mr Stevens said 33,000 hospital beds across England had been made available to COVID-19 patients, with more to come as new makeshift hospitals are opened in major cities.
Work is already almost complete on transforming London’s enormous ExCel Centre into the NHS Nightingale hospital, which will house thousands of beds for coronavirus patients.
- Rishi Sunak unveils more support measures for businesses
- Tory MP Caroline Ansell resigns over free school meals rebellion
- Hospitals in Liverpool treating more COVID patients than at the peak
- Storm Barbara hits UK with heavy rain and gale force winds
- Two killed following explosion at shop in west London