Today, the Health Secretary has announced £500 million to trial new technologies that can speed up coronavirus testing and assist with repeat testing, helping us to continue controlling the virus and getting life back to normal.
- Testing is a vital line of defence against coronavirus. Our testing system is one of the best in the world: we have rapidly scaled up our testing capacity from 2,000 tests per day in March to 300,000 per day currently, and have now carried out over 16 million tests in the UK.
- We are now levelling up the testing system by rolling out trials to assess the benefits of repeat population testing, while we continue to trial for a new rapid test, using the latest cutting-edge technology, which aims to deliver results within 20 minutes.
- If we can roll out rapid and repeated testing, chains of transmission will be broken almost immediately by delivering on-the-spot results – helping to control the virus and get us back to a more normal way of life.
This week, pupils across England and Wales have started returning to school full-time, with robust protective measures in place to keep them safe as they get back into the classroom to learn and be with their friends.
- Teachers and other school staff have spent the summer months working tirelessly to make classrooms Covid-secure in preparation for a full return of pupils from this week.
- All four of the UK’s chief medical officers have backed the full return of pupils to school, highlighting that as the risk of contracting coronavirus in school is very small, it is far more damaging for a child’s development, health and wellbeing to be away from school any longer.
- Schools have put additional safeguards in place to ensure both teachers and staff are kept as safe as possible, including:
- Primary children will stay in groups to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
- In areas of local restrictions, older children and staff will wear face coverings in communal areas where they can’t easily socially distance.
- Strict hygiene and cleaning protocols are in place and PPE is being distributed to every school, along with a small number of home testing kits for anyone who develops symptoms and is not able to get tested easily .
- Local authorities have been given an extra £40 million to increase school transport to reduce pressure on public transport, and pupils who can are being encouraged to walk or cycle to school.
- Getting children back into school has been a national priority for us. Nothing will have a greater effect on the life chances of our children than getting back to learning, back to playing and back to being kids again.