MORE than one million Covid tests will be processed a day at two new “mega labs” opening in the New Year, the Government has announced.
The two laboratories, in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, and in Scotland, will double the current capacity of 520,000 tests a day to potentially reach Boris Johnson’s pledge to get all Covid test results back within 24 hours.
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More than one million Covid tests will be processed a day at two new mega labs opening in the new year, the Government has announcedCredit: Rex Features
The new mega labs in the West Midlands and Scotland will be able to provide 300,000 daily results each Credit: EPA
Each of the new mega labs will be capable of providing 300,000 daily results.
Health department officials said it could also allow for asymptomatic people, as well as those with symptoms, to have gold-standard PCR tests on the NHS.
And because more tests are being done, the cost of each Covid test could be reduced from the current £150 price.
As well as processing more coronavirus tests, the mega labs will also create 2,000 jobs in the local areas – coming at a time when redundancies are rife across many sectors.
The new national diagnostic infrastructure also means the labs could process tests for other illnesses including cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said: “The radical expansion of testing has been one of the successes of this pandemic, as it means more people can get a test more conveniently than ever before.
“We didn’t go into this crisis with a significant diagnostics industry, but we have built one, and these two mega labs are another step forward.
“Transforming the UK’s diagnostic facilities is not only essential to beating this virus, but it is necessary to build back better – so we are better prepared in future for testing on a massive scale.”
Meanwhile, 168 people died from coronavirus in the last 24 hours as the UK battles the second wave of the bug.
A further 24,962 have been infected bringing the total number of cases to 1,369,318.
The NHS is also set to launch 43 “long Covid” mini-hospitals to treat up to half a million long-term sufferers of the virus.
The centres will offer care to some 500,000 people still suffering with fatigue, brain fog and breathlessness months after contracting coronavirus.
Rapid pregnancy-style coronavirus tests are currently being trialled in Liverpool, and show that the quick and regular testing can reduce transmission by 90 per cent.
Testing shows the checks can effectively pick up more than three in four positive cases – the majority of which are currently being missed.
Experts say they are now looking at how the new technology, which can provide results in under 30 minutes, could be self-administered.
This comes as health bosses warn that parts of England could be placed into on-off lockdowns under a new “pump the brakes” Covid strategy.
Boris Johnson has vowed to lift the national lockdown on December 2 and move back to regional tiers in his battle against the killer bug.
But large parts of the country could be placed into rolling ‘circuit breaker’ lockdowns if infection rates bounce back.
Department of Health bosses warned the gloomy prospect may be needed as part of a new “pump the brakes” strategy to combat the pandemic.
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