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Covid: What is mass testing and how does it work?

19 Nov 2020
Covid: What is mass testing and how does it work?

BBC News

A mass coronavirus testing programme has been taking place in Liverpool.

There are now plans to extend it to other parts of England, and to students around the UK before they return home for Christmas.

How does mass testing work and what does it achieve?

What is mass testing and why is it important?

Mass testing means asking everyone to be tested, whether or not they have symptoms.

The idea is to find healthy people who may be infected, but not yet displaying symptoms. They can then be told to isolate and be prevented from spreading the virus.

Currently, across most of England, people can only have a test if they already have symptoms. But during the Liverpool pilot, everyone living or working in the city is being offered a voluntary test.

Mass testing can be used in more targeted ways, including:

Regular testing in a hospital or care home to prevent outbreaks.

To keep open places like schools and universities where the virus can spread.

Helping people safely attend a cinema, theatre or football match with a one-off test before entry.

Where is mass testing available?

Mobile testing sites have been set up across Liverpool, in places like care homes, schools, universities and workplaces.

People might be invited by their local authority to come for a test but they can also book their own online, or whole families can just turn up in their car.

What difference could mass testing make?

In September, Mr Johnson outlined his “moonshot” plan to control the virus with mass testing, possibly by next spring.

He said that “in the near future” he wanted to start using testing to allow people who tested negative “to behave in a more normal way”.