Hundreds of thousands of rapid coronavirus tests will be sent to homes and workplaces every day as part of a new government campaign to re-open England, it has been claimed.
Boris Johnson is set to lay out plans for the provisionally titled ‘Are you ready? Get testing. Go’ scheme in a bid to get the country to “a new normal” without the need for vaccination passports.
From next month around 68 percent of the population will be eligible for the new ‘surge’ testing due to the planned roll-out as well as tests already available to people working away from home.
People will be encouraged to use the flow lateral tests even if they don’t have symptoms, with the Royal Mail told to prepare for delivering 400,000 each day.
The PM will lay out the ambitious plan on Monday as part of his road map for easing lockdown, reports the Times.
The rapid testing kits deliver results in half an hour but are less precise than PCR alternatives, with the medicines regulator previously expressing concern at trusting untrained people to use them effectively.
It is understood ministers want schools re-opened from March 8 with the new testing programme to be launched prior to this date.
Pupils and teachers, as well as their support bubbles will likely be offered two tests a week.
Non-essential shops, universities and further education are expected to be open by late April, followed by pubs, restaurants and gyms in early May, dependent on the vaccine roll-out and infection figures.
Businesses will be incorporated into the rapid testing plan between April and May, by which time it is estimated the government will be supplying 75 million tests a week.
A minister told the Times: “The vaccination programme is going better than we could have hoped, but testing is the key to getting the economy going again.”
Lateral flow tests are already available to companies with over 50 staff members and open during lockdown, while Transport for London has launched four asymptomatic test sites.
While primary school and nursery workers looking after key worker kids have been taking tests twice a week since last month.
Department of Health and Social Care evaluations have found the government’s £22 billion Test and Trace scheme is unlikely to reduce the R rate by more than 0.1.