Mass testing to find asymptomatic people with coronavirus set for Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire will have more COVID-19 testing. Picture: GettyImages / iStockPhoto / Richard Johnson

Hertfordshire will have more COVID-19 testing. Picture: GettyImages / iStockPhoto / Richard Johnson - Credit: GettyImages / iStockPhoto / Rich

Some Hertfordshire residents will be tested for coronavirus even if they do not have symptoms, the Government announced yesterday.

This new testing is thanks to lateral flow antigen tests, which are quicker and do not need a laboratory, and have been shown in a pilot test in Liverpool to have had good results.

This new testing would mean a higher proportion of asymptomatic people can now be tested so public health teams can track, trace and isolate more people who are at high likelihood of spreading the virus, and break the chain of transmission.

Hertfordshire is one of over 60 local authorities to get the initial batch of 600,000 rapid coronavirus tests this week in England.

Our upper tier local authority will be offered a weekly allocation equivalent to 10 per cent of its population. In Herts this would work out at around a 100,000 as its population is over one million.

The people to test will be a decision of the director of public health, who is Jim McManus in Herts.

They will be supported by NHS Test and Trace, overseen by the department of health, to expand testing programmes in our area through access to training and clinical and operational guidance.

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Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Mass testing is a vital tool to help us control this virus and get life more normal.

“I want to thank all directors of public health for their support and efforts over the past months to help us tackle this virus, bring it under control and get the country back to what we love doing.”

However the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) has criticised the government, by saying: “Despite this being announced as the ‘next stage of partnership between NHS Test and Trace and local directors of public health’, we were deeply disappointed not to receive advanced notice.”

“We await details of the access to training and clinical and operational guidance and funding that will be essential in delivering this testing expansion at a local level.”

“It is crucial that the Government takes the time to evaluate and learn from these pilots; and does so in a collaborative way with a focus on efficacy and outcomes.”

Mr McManus retweeted the ADPH stance on this.