Matt Hancock has announced the nationwide coronavirus infection survey will increase from regularly testing 28,000 people per fortnight in England to 150,000 by October.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) aims to expand the survey to include 400,000 individuals and will be extended to cover Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The health secretary said it was “one of the biggest expansions of surveillance testing we have ever seen”.
“The ONS survey will be a crucial part of this work – improving our understanding of the rate of infection in the population and how many people have antibodies.
“This will allow us to further narrow down the areas potentially affected by local outbreaks and continue our fight to curb the spread ahead of winter.”
It comes as Heathrow Airport announced a new coronavirus testing facility in a bid to bring the mandatory 14-day travel quarantine to an end.
Passengers arriving at the airport will be able to book swab tests and have results sent to them in seven hours under the proposal, which is being used in Germany and Iceland. The programme is awaiting government approval before it can begin.
Oldham could be next to return to lockdown
The town of Oldham in Greater Manchester could be just 48 hours away from falling into more severe lockdown measures, it has been reported.
Oldham council leader Sean Fielding told the Guardian that despite being one of the northern regions where some restrictions have been kept, central government could make the decision very soon.
Vincent Wood reports:
Government to increase Covid-19 testing to 150,000 per fortnight
The government has announced the coronavirus infection survey will increase from regularly testing 28,000 people per fortnight in England to 150,000 in October.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the survey, carried out by the Office for National Statistics |(ONS), aims to include 400,000 individuals and to cover Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “We are developing the capacity to test for coronavirus on an unprecedented scale and undertaking one of the biggest expansions of surveillance testing we have ever seen.
“This ONS survey will be a crucial part of this work - improving our understanding of the rate of infection in the population and how many people have antibodies.
“This will allow us to further narrow down the areas potentially affected by local outbreaks and continue our fight to curb the spread ahead of winter.
“The data and insight gathered will help inform our national, regional and local responses to the pandemic, allowing this nation to get back to the things we love doing.”
Good morning, and welcome to The Independent's liveblog following the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis.
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