An entire town is to be tested for coronavirus - but will other places do the same?

Friday, 30th October 2020, 12:34 pm
Updated Friday, 30th October 2020, 12:35 pm

Redcar in North Yorkshire is to take part in a mass coronavirus testing programme, which will offer all 36,000 residents a test, whether they are displaying symptoms or not.

The town was chosen as a pilot location for the mass testing programme, along with two other areas. The army will help to set up the testing sites, it was announced.

Residents will not be forced to take a test. The scheme is entirely voluntary for people living in the area.

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The tests will use saliva samples, rather than swabs, with results available in half an hour.

Redcar was ‘picked out of a hat’

Jacob Young, who is the town’s Conservative MP, said testing would begin on 23 November.

Speaking to BBC Radio Tees, he said that Redcar had been “picked out of a hat” of similar sized towns, with the government working alongside the council and army to “massively increase testing capacity.”

Redcar and Cleveland Council leader, Mary Lanigan, first revealed the plan at a meeting of councillors on Wednesday, assuring residents that they should not be concerned about the increased army presence in the area.

The tests will be offered to anyone who is a resident in the TS10 postcode. The tests will be taken a number of times over 10 days.

The area is currently under Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions, along with the rest of the North East of England.

NHS dashboard data shows Redcar’s latest seven day Covid rate stands at 285.8 cases per 100,000 people, using information from 20 to 26 October.

Cases in the Teesside region surged past 12,000 after the biggest 24 hour increase so far during mass testing.

On 28 October, Public Health England announced a total of 570 new cases recorded on Teesside.

Will mass testing become the norm in the UK?

Currently, mass Covid-19 testing is only in a pilot stage.

UK government plans leaked in September described mass testing as a “top priority.” The information suggested that officials plan to carry out up to 10 million Covid-19 tests per day by early next year.

A mass testing programme was first used in Leicester during the summer, during which door to door testing was carried out. This was conducted after the city was placed into a local lockdown, following a spike in cases.