LONDON (Reuters) – Millions of COVID-19 tests able to detect the virus within 90 minutes will be rolled out in Britain, the country’s health minister said on Monday, after criticism there has not been enough testing especially in nursing homes.
Last week, one of Britain’s largest care home providers CareUK said the government is unable to meet its promise to regularly test staff and residents in care homes after problems were discovered with the kits currently being used.
Capacity will be boosted at hospitals, care homes and laboratories starting from next week, the government said on Monday, comprising 5.8 million tests using DNA and 450,000 swab tests. Neither will need to be administered by a health professional.
“The fact these tests can detect flu as well as COVID-19 will be hugely beneficial as we head into winter, so patients can follow the right advice to protect themselves and others,” said health minister Matt Hancock.
“We are on track to deliver half a million tests a day by the end of October but new technologies like these two will help us to accelerate that,” he said.
Separately, the publicly-funded National Health Service said it would be offering “COVID-friendly” treatments to cancer patients, including drugs that do not have a big impact on the immune system.
Britain’s healthcare system has come under severe strain during peaks in the country’s COVID-19 outbreak, which has killed more than 46,000 people, the fourth highest toll in the world, according to a Reuters tally collated on Monday.