Coronavirus: New ‘on the spot’ COVID-19 swab test with 20-minute results being trialled

A coronavirus test that gives results in 20 minutes is being trialled, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

The new swab test – which would show whether someone currently has the virus – does not need to be sent to a lab.

Mr Hancock also said more than 10 million antibody tests – that check if someone has had the virus in the past – will start being rolled out next week.

This comes as the PM decided to scrap the fees to use the NHS for overseas health service staff and care workers.

The number of people who have died after testing positive for the virus has now reached 36,042, a rise of 338, the government announced on Thursday.

Currently, test results should take up to two to three days to be returned, but there has been some criticism that people have waited days or weeks for their results.

The health secretary said the new test, if trialled successfully, could “change the way that we control COVID-19 across the country, getting those with negative results back into society as quickly as possible”.

During the government’s daily news briefing, Mr Hancock said the new test will be trialled on a smaller scale to “monitor its effectiveness” and if it works “we’ll roll it out as soon as we can”.

The trial is beginning in Hampshire and will be rolled out in a number of settings, including A&E departments without access to laboratories, GP coronavirus testing hubs and care homes.

Up to 4,000 people of different ages and backgrounds will take part in the six-week pilot.

The new test, produced by UK company OptiGene, could provide accurate results “almost on the spot”, Mr Hancock said.

“This will enable health and care workers to carry on with their shift or immediately isolate on the same day, and could eventually offer the same benefit to the whole country,” he added.

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