Birmingham news West Midlands applies for mass coronavirus testing MetiNews.Com
MetiNews.Com - Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the mass testing can get regions out of tough 'tier three' restrictions early
Breaking News ! West Midlands councils have been among the first to apply for mass coronavirus testing designed to end the tough "tier three" restrictions early, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has revealed. Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, he said the Government wanted areas in tier three areas to follow the example of Liverpool, which tested 300,000 people for Covid-19. It allowed Liverpool to move from tier three, where local lockdown restrictions are toughest, to tier two, he said. Mr Hancock said community testing will give tier three areas "a faster way out of the current restrictions, to support them to come down the tiers as has happened in Liverpool". And in the televised press conferemce, he named four areas that had been fastest to apply for community testing - West Midlands, Redcar in Teesside, Warwickshire and Medway in Kent. Read More Related Articles 8 announcements from Matt Hancock press conference as UK orders 357m doses of seven vaccines While testing has previously been offered to people who have Covid-19 symptoms, the "community testing" programme involves testing the population as a whole, including those who don't have symptoms. Mr Hancock said: "In Liverpool, where over 300,000 people ... that testing has happened, they managed to bring the case rates down by three quarters." He added: "I want to see this sort of success right across the board". He added: "This offer is available all across the UK and will be delivered in partnership with local authorities in tier three areas and with devolved adminsitrations throughout the country." "By using tests that can turn results around in under 30 minutes, we can identify and isolate people with Covid". The Government is today publishing a "prospectus" setting out exactly what community testing would involve. Read More Related Articles 'Great hope' for Solihull that Tier 3 could be eased in December review The mass testing scheme uses fast-acting tests, called lateral flow tests, which can provide a result without needing to be sent to a laboratory. The tests themselves are already in use in Birmingham, but on a much smaller scale. Local leaders in the West Midlands have said that community testing in the region may be different to what happened in Liverpool, with tests initially aimed at placesand sections of the community where coronavirus rates are highest. MPs will tomorrow (Tuesday) vote on the government's proposed new regional tiered system of coronavirus restrictions. The current national lockdown ends at midnight on Tuesday night and - as long as MPs approve them - the new regional rules will begin instead. Mr Hancock defended the tiered system, saying: "This action is neccessary to avoid a worse outcome". There are more than 15,000 people currently in hospital with Covid, he said, adding: "Even as we ease these national restrictions, we've got to keep some restrictions in place." He said there was "light at the end of the tunnel, with vaccines on the horizon. Mr Hancock said: "The NHS now stands ready to deploy a vaccine should one be approved." Read More Related Articles 'Great hope' for Solihull that Tier 3 could be eased in December review Read More Related Articles New coronavirus symptom discovered by experts and could be early sign of Covid-19 The Liverpool scheme was designed to test every person in the city.
. Speaking last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson highlighted the success of the Liverpool scheme and said he wanted other areas to follow suit. The Prime Minister said: "At least one in three people with Covid have no symptoms at all and may be spreading the disease without even knowing they've got it. "The only way to identify them and protect everyone is through mass testing. Liverpool shows what can be achieved. The Prime Minister also suggested that people who are tested negative could become exempt from some lockdown restrictions. He said: "Testing on this scale is untried, but in due course, if it works, where people test negative, it may also be possible for families and communities to be released from certain restrictions even if their home area stays in tier 3.”
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The Government is set to publish details of a plan to roll out a coronavirus vaccine, once a vaccine has been approved. Mr Johnson has said he hopes vaccinations will begin before Christmas, but stressed today that this was not certain. The minister responsible for the rollout of coronavirus vaccines has insisted jabs will not be compulsory – but said hospitality and entertainment venues may insist on seeing proof people have had one. Health minister Nadhim Zahawi said pressure would come from service providers for customers to show what has been dubbed a so-called “immunity passport” in future. Referring to Covid-19 vaccines, Mr Zahawi told the BBC: “I think it is right that it is voluntary. “People have to be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to be vaccinated or otherwise. “But I think the very strong message that you will see, this is the way we return the whole country, and so it’s good for your family, it’s good for your community, it’s good for your country to be vaccinated.
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“And ultimately, people will have to make a decision.” Asked whether people who get the Covid-19 jab will receive some kind of “immunity passport” to show they have been vaccinated, Mr Zahawi said: “We are looking at the technology. “And, of course, a way of people being able to inform their GP that they have been vaccinated. “But, also, I think you’ll probably find that restaurants and bars and cinemas and other venues, sports venues, will probably also use that system – as they have done with the app. “I think that in many ways, the pressure will come from both ways, from service providers who’ll say, ‘Look, demonstrate to us that you have been vaccinated’.
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“But, also, we will make the technology as easy and accessible as possible.” Asked if that meant people who did not have a vaccination would be severely restricted in what they could do, the minister said: “I think people have to make a decision. “But I think you’ll probably find many service providers will want to engage with this in the way they did with the app.” Pressed on how vaccines would begin to be distributed, Mr Zahawi said: “The health and social care workers, care home residents, then, obviously, starting with the over-80s and then moving down the age scale. That is the advice.”
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