Residents of Liverpool will have access to rapid turnaround Covid tests on a weekly basis as part of Operation Moonshot, a mass testing scheme set to launch a day after the country enters a second national lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson referred to the scheme as a potential “powerful new weapon” in the fight against Covid and pledged to distribute “millions [of tests] between now and Christmas.”
Liverpool, which has been under tier three restrictions for nearly three weeks and is experiencing close-to-full intensive care unit capacity, reported 366.4 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people last week. Approximately 2,000 armed forces personnel will collaborate with NHS staff to administer hundreds of thousands of Covid tests throughout the city.
Testing will take place in various settings, including hospitals, care homes, schools, universities, workplaces, and via at-home kits. Individuals can book a test online, walk in for testing, or receive an invitation from the local authority. Results will be available within an hour.
Boris Johnson stated that these tests are essential for identifying asymptomatic individuals who could unknowingly infect others. The success of this mass testing pilot in Liverpool will determine whether millions of these rapid tests will be distributed nationwide by Christmas, empowering local communities to use them to reduce transmission.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock encouraged everyone in Liverpool to play their part by getting tested and following public health guidelines.
Liverpool’s Mayor, Joe Anderson, expressed pleasure at the city’s selection as a pilot location for mass testing, aiming to quickly identify virus carriers and reduce transmission.
Baroness Dido Harding, interim executive chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, emphasized the importance of the pilot program and encouraged everyone in Liverpool to participate in order to make a significant impact on the virus’s spread.