First whole city COVID-19 testing to launch in Liverpool

COVID-19 testing
© Denis Kelly

In the first pilot of whole city testing, residents and workers in Liverpool will be offered COVID-19 testing, whether they have symptoms or not

Boris Johnson has announced that a new whole city testing approach will be launched in Liverpool this Friday (6th November) to obtain more data on the number of cases and control the spread of the virus. Everyone living or working in Liverpool will be offered testing, even if asymptomatic.

Liverpool’s weekly cases currently stand at 410.4 per 100,000.

It is the first pilot of whole city testing in England that has been made possible by the increase in testing capacity and new technologies. Tests will be provided through a partnership between Liverpool City Council, NHS Test and Trace and Ministry of Defence, with logistical support from Armed Forces personnel

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.

Loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), a new technology that provides the ability to deliver significant volumes of tests, will also be deployed in Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for NHS staff.

Roughly 2,000 military personnel will be deployed from Thursday 5th November to support the COVID-19 mass testing initiative through assisting local authorities with planning logistics locally, and delivering the additional lateral flow testing part of the programme.

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.

“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.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“Last month we set out our ambition to use the latest mass testing technologies to bring this virus under control.

“Mass testing will help us to control this virus, by finding it even before people get symptoms. I’m delighted we can now roll out mass testing to whole cities – starting with the City of Liverpool. Using half a million of the very latest rapid tests, this rollout can help suppress the virus and give residents and workers some peace of mind.

“I want to thank local leaders, Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson and City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, and Liverpool’s Director of Public Health Matt Ashton, who will continue to work hand in hand with our dedicated armed forces to provide tests to anyone who wants one, fully supported by NHS Test and Trace.

“Everyone in Liverpool can help play their part by getting a test and following the rules, including the critical basics of ‘Hands. Face. Space’.”

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said:

“During negotiations with central government, myself and Steve Rotheram have always highlighted the need for enhanced public health intervention measures in Liverpool and the wider city region, and we were keen that we should be considered for any new strategies to tackle the worrying rise in COVID-19.

“We are pleased that our numerous conversations have resulted in Liverpool becoming a pilot for mass testing, which will help to quickly identify people who have the virus and reduce transmission substantially.

“We are seeing a slow reduction in figures in Liverpool which shows we are on the right path and residents and businesses are working together and following guidelines for the greater good.

“We hope this new initiative boosts our efforts, and we will continue to see the numbers of positive cases drop across the city.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“Since the start of the pandemic, the Armed Forces have worked with colleagues across government to increase the national testing capacity. We will be deploying 2000 talented Armed Forces personnel to, once again, rise to the challenges posed by COVID-19 to ensure we go above and beyond for the Liverpool community – we will have your backs throughout the trial.

“The military are uniquely placed to help with the fight against COVID-19 and remain ready to support with the mass testing initiative in Liverpool along with the additional needs of the country at this time.”

Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection Baroness Dido Harding said:

“Mass testing has the potential to enable us to find the vast majority of people who have coronavirus, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not, and therefore dramatically enhance our ability to stop the spread of the virus. This first deployment of whole city testing in Liverpool is a really important step forward and is thanks to the big increase in testing capacity and our investment in new testing technologies.

“NHS Test and Trace will continue to work closely with local leaders, directors of public health and the Armed Forces to ensure Liverpool residents and workers can benefit from these advances. By everyone in Liverpool coming forward to get tested, and isolating if they need to, we have a real opportunity to make a massive difference.”


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