UK coronavirus: Government gives important update on COVID-19 testing for NHS and the public

UK coronavirus: Government gives important update on COVID-19 testing for NHS and the public




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Work is underway to provide a range of tests for NHS workers in isolation and eventually, those experiencing symptoms of coronavirus.

That is the message from Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty who joined Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the daily press briefing this afternoon (March 25).

The Prime Minister started by thanking people for abiding to the lockdown rules – which are to stay indoors and only venture out if absolutely necessary to supermarkets, pharmacies or appointments.

He said 405,000 people had responded to the call for volunteers to help the NHS – which is the size of Coventry’s population.

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Mr Whitty was quizzed about testing individuals for the virus and how this will be rolled out.

First and foremost to NHS staff, and then to the wider public.

At the moment, 97,000 tests have been conducted – but this has primarily been on those who have come back from affected countries, and those in hospital.

Mr Whitty said there are “multiple components” in obtaining more tests, for which there is a global shortage.

Testing NHS workers in isolation

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said: “The next few weeks and months are going to be extraordinary difficult for the NHS”

 

This is due to every country needing and wanting these new tests at the same time, he said.

He said: “Testing in intensive cares and in hospitals is being scaled up.

“The thing we would like to do next is being able to test NHS and other critical workers who are self isolating.

“This is a global problem, every country is wanting this new test. There is a global shortage.

“Our next priority is to get workers back to work.

“Once we have more testing, then we want to go out to test people with mild symptoms, we obviously want to go wider.

“There are other tests we will want to have, that have not been evaluated, but will be able to tell if someone has had the virus.

“That will allow us to tell people you have had the infection, it is likely you will be protected by this.”

How far away are these tests?

Mr Whitty said technology is quite close – and is being evaluated this week.

“We need to get the quality of this absolutely right,” he added.

“We certainly have acquired for the UK, a lot of tests.

“The evaluation and based on that we will be able to decide what to do next.”

He also said the next two weeks will see the demand for beds in intensive care units soar as the peak of the virus takes hold.

Just yesterday (March 25) Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock announced a new makeshift hospital will be installed at the London Excel.

It will comprise two wards which will have capacity for 4,000 people.



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