Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks during a press conference today (Picture: AP)
People without coronavirus symptoms could nevertheless be spreading the virus to others, the Health Secretary has warned.
In a press conference this evening, Matt Hancock said that such individuals were a ‘silent danger’.
He said that they made up around 1 in 3 people with coronavirus and urged everyone to take a test if they were offered one, in a departure from previous government messaging that only those with symptoms or known contact with someone with the virus should be tested.
He said: ‘By using tests that can turn results around in under 30 minutes, we can identify and then isolate people who have Covid, including crucially the about 1 in 3 people with Covid who don’t have those symptoms at all but can nevertheless pass the infection on.
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‘Because if you have Covid without symptoms and still infect others, that of course is a silent danger.
‘You wouldn’t know that you’re risking lives around you.
‘And so to anybody, if you’re offered a test please take it. You might jut save a life.’
It comes as the government is expanding its testing capacity, for example for university students.
The Health Secretary said mass testing of students was taking place across the country.
He told the press briefing: ‘Today is the first day that we’re rolling out the widespread testing of people who are about to return from university and we want to make sure that people can come home from university, but do that in the safest possible way.
‘There’s a programme right across universities, right across the UK to ensure that as many people as possible can get a test before they travel.
‘This is a really helpful contribution in example of how the expansion in testing capacity that we’ve built up over these past nine months or so can have a real-world impact.
‘Then, of course, there are arrangements in place if you’re at university for those who test positive who then need to isolate, along with their contacts.’
Scotland also announced an expansion of testing, with pilot mass testing schemes in coronavirus hotspots across the country to inform plans to carry out asymptomatic checks ‘much more routinely’ in the new year, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister said asymptomatic testing is being offered in communities where the levels of Covid-19 ‘continue to be of concern and are higher than the national average’.
The scheme is being piloted in five locations in west and central Scotland and is operating for between three and 13 days, depending on the site.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing today, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘The lessons that we learn from these trials will then inform our plans to expand community testing much more extensively and much more routinely early in the new year.’
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