The army will be involved in the rollout, which will also use rapid testing (Picture: PA)
Boris Johnson is set to announce a move to scrap self isolation for contacts of people who test positive for coronavirus, as part of major a shake up of the track and trace system.
The Prime Minister is also expected to promise a major testing scheme for all of the areas forced into the highest level of coronavirus restrictions when England returns to a tiered system next month.
He will say on Monday that areas of the country under tier three will be given military support and rapid testing, much like that seen in Liverpool, when the national lockdown ends on December 2. His intervention comes as the Government announced that families will be allowed to mix over Christmas, as part of a ‘limited household bubbling’ plan which will be finalised next week.
It is also thought that the testing pledge is designed to help head off a Tory rebellion over the revised tier system, which is expected to bring in harsher restrictions than those England was living under before lockdown.
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Some Conservative MPs and local leaders are sceptical about backing Mr Johnson’s ‘Covid winter plan’, though it is likely to pass through Parliament easily if Labour backs it.
Meanwhile, the PM will also announce a trial of the repeat testing of close contacts of those who test positive for Covid-19, to prevent them from having to isolate.
The contacts will get the opportunity to be tested every day for a week and will not have to quarantine unless they test positive.
Downing Street said that pilot will begin in Liverpool on Monday.
Soldiers helped with the pilot scheme in Liverpool (Picture: PA)
If successful, the scheme could be rolled out more widely across the NHS and care homes in December, before being introduced nationwide from January.
The PM is expected to tell MPs on Monday: ‘In England, where nationwide measures came into effect at the start of this month, the increase in new cases is flattening off.
‘But we are not out of the woods yet. The virus is still present in communities across the country, and remains both far more infectious and far more deadly than seasonal flu.’
He is set to lay out his plans, including the extension of the pilot testing scheme seen in Liverpool, in a House of Commons statement.
Mr Johnson will add: ’But with expansion in testing and vaccines edging closer to deployment, the regional tiered system will help get the virus back under control and keep it there.’
The testing programme, which will include targeted testing in the highest risk areas, will use lateral flow tests that can produce results in as little as 30 minutes.
Public Health England director Dr Susan Hopkins said the pilot in Liverpool detected 700 cases that would not otherwise have been traced in the 10-day period.
It is not yet known what areas are destined for tier three, but ministers are preparing to reveal that on Thursday.
Downing Street has said more areas are likely to be included in the higher tiers to preserve the progress in halting the virus’ spread during the lockdown.
The plans are backed by an extra £7 billion, taking the overall funding given to the test and trace scheme this year to £22 billion, No 10 said.
Additional testing plans include for all staff working in food manufacturing, prisons and the vaccine programme to be offered weekly testing from next month.
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