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Everyone living or working in Liverpool will be offered regular Covid-19 tests in England's first whole city programme.
Rapid turnaround tests will be made available across the city from Friday, Liverpool Echo reports.
Around 2,000 military personnel will arrive in the city later this week to roll-out a huge programme of hundreds of thousands of tests as Liverpool becomes the centre of the government's new strategy to fight the virus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has talked of rapid mass testing as offering a "moonshot" solution which could help bring the UK out of the coronavirus crisis – and the key plan will begin in Liverpool this week.
Local leaders have been working with the government and put the city forward for the crucial pilot programme in the hope it will drive down infection levels and potentially mean an easing of restrictions before Christmas.
Liverpool residents and workers will be tested using a combination of existing swab tests, as well as new lateral flow tests, which can rapidly turn around results within an hour without the need to be processed in a lab, as well as LAMP technology due to be deployed in Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for NHS staff.
The pilot will help to inform a blueprint for how mass testing can be achieved and how fast and reliable Covid-19 testing can be delivered at scale.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "I want to thank the civic leaders of Liverpool for volunteering to join the UK’s first city-wide population testing pilot and the people of Liverpool for taking part.
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"These tests will help identify the many thousands of people in the city who don’t have symptoms but can still infect others without knowing.
"Dependent on their success in Liverpool, we will aim to distribute millions of these new rapid tests between now and Christmas and empower local communities to use them to drive down transmission in their areas.
"It is early days, but this kind of mass testing has the potential to be a powerful new weapon in our fight against Covid-19."
If successful in Liverpool, the programme will be rolled out across the rest of the city region and then in other areas of the country.
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The more people who get tested, the greater the accuracy of the local picture, which it is hoped will allow local decisions to be made about how to fight the virus and how to potentially allow people in the city to start to get back to some normal activities.
Anyone who tests positive, using either a lateral flow test or an existing swab test, must self-isolate along with their household immediately and their contacts will be traced.
Those who test negative will need to continue to follow all national guidance.
These more advanced tests will help identify infectious individuals who are not displaying symptoms and help identify far more positive cases so they can self-isolate and prevent the virus from spreading, in a first step towards rolling out mass testing more widely across the UK.
- British Army
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