Two new "mega labs" will open in early 2021 with the aim of doubling the UK's daily coronavirus testing capacity, the Government has announced.
The sites – at Leamington Spa in the Midlands and another at an unnamed site in Scotland – will increase testing capacity by 600,000. Latest data shows current capacity is around 519,000 – although the number of tests processed is lower.
Elsewhere, a network of more than 40 “long COVID” specialist clinics will open before Christmas to help patients who are suffering from coronavirus months after infection.
Doctors, nurses, therapists and other NHS staff will work together and offer physical and psychological assessments of those experiencing symptoms.
NHS England has provided £10m to fund the clinics, with ten sites already earmarked for the Midlands, seven in the North East, six in the East of England, South West and South East respectively, five in London and three in the North West.
In further news, mass coronavirus testing will be rolled out to 67 more areas in England, following the launch of a testing programme of people in Liverpool. Areas including Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and parts of the West Midlands will receive new rapid “lateral flow” tests.
People in Liverpool have been offered regular COVID-19 tests under the first trial of whole city testing in England. Everyone living or working in the city are offered tests, whether or not they have symptoms, with follow-up tests every two weeks or so.
Long Covid is thought to affect more than 60,000 people in the UK, can cause continuing fatigue, brain fog, breathlessness and pain.
The 40 clinics will be accessed via referral from a GP other healthcare professional, allowing doctors the opportunity to rule out any other possible underlying causes for symptoms, such as suspected stroke, lung cancers or respiratory conditions.
News of the scheme came as the head of England's Test and Trace programme, Baroness Dido Harding – who herself has been asked to self-isolate – told MPs the service was not a “silver bullet” to tackle coronavirus.
The Conservative peer revealed that preliminary data showed a little over half of people (54%) who were asked to self-isolate for 14 days said they had complied with the rules.
More info >
BBC News website: Covid-19: New “mega labs” in early 2021 to speed up testing
PharmaTimes website: NHS launches 40 “long Covid” clinics
Covid: Mass testing for 67 local areas in England
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