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The government has announced 67 areas of England will receive rapid coronavirus testing.
Matt Hancock announced on Tuesday that the mass COVID-19 testing system piloted in Liverpool will now be rolled out across the country this week.
Each area will receive 10,000 lateral flow tests, the government said (for a full list of the 67 areas, see the bottom of the page).
Hancock told the House of Commons on Tuesday he has written to 67 local directors of public health about providing “10% of their population per week” with tests.
“The next step is to roll out this mass testing capability more widely,” he said.
An initial 600,000 lateral flow test kits are being issued to the 67 areas in the coming days, the Department of Health said.
It is part of the government’s plan to expand asymptomatic testing for COVID-19.
Lateral flow tests, with a turnaround time of under an hour, have been available since Friday for people who live and work in Liverpool and do not have symptoms.
Watch: Matt Hancock says there is a ‘huge’ vaccine rollout plan
Speaking on Sky News earlier on Tuesday, Hancock had said: “Last night I wrote to the directors of public health of all local authorities in England saying we can make available these brilliant new lateral flow tests that give results in 15 minutes, and we can make them available to directors of public health right across the country.
“Sixty-six expressed an interest in the first instance, I’m now expecting a whole load more.”
Hancock also said that mass testing, like a vaccine rollout, would be across the UK not just England.
Following the news that a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech had been more than 90% effective in trials, the UK plans to deploy 40 million doses.
Hancock has asked the NHS and the armed forces to be ready to give out the vaccine by the beginning of December.
“The UK government has bought the vaccine for the whole of the UK and it will be rolled out fairly across the whole of the UK with the same prioritisation no matter where you live in this country,” he said.
“The same goes for mass testing, making sure we roll that out across the whole UK.”
On Friday, queues built up outside the new test centres which opened at midday, with people waiting around 45 minutes outside the Liverpool Tennis Centre – one of the six facilities – before it opened.
Liverpool’s director of public health, Matt Ashton, said on Saturday the mass testing was showing positive signs after thousands of people were tested on the first day of the pilot scheme.
The programme aims to test up to 50,000 people a day once fully operational, he added.
On Monday, Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said 23,170 people have been tested for coronavirus in the city since midday on Friday, with 0.7% testing positive.
The 67 areas of England where COVID mass testing is set to be launched
Barking and Dagenham
Blackburn and Darwen
City of London
East Riding of Yorkshire
Hammersmith and Fulham
Kingston upon Hull
Kensington and Chelsea
Kingston upon Thames
Newcastle upon Tyne
Redcar and Cleveland
Richmond upon Thames
Watch: Exceptions for going outside during England's lockdown
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