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Three more towns will begin mass Covid testing for residents this week

Three more towns will begin mass Covid testing for all residents this week – with 1,000 troops deployed to help – after ‘Moonshot’ plan got under way in Liverpool

  • More than 100,000 people will soon be told to get tested in the three towns 
  • Around 1,000 soldiers will be deployed to help in plans announced tomorrow 
  • It comes after Liverpool’s city-wide swabbing programme launched this week

Three more towns will soon introduce mass testing schemes in a bid to tackle coronavirus – after Liverpool’s city-wide swabbing programme launched earlier this week.

The Prime Minister will announce that more than 100,000 people will be told to get tested in the three towns, including one in the Midlands and another in the south of England. 

Boris Johnson has ordered the mass-swabbing in an attempt to identify asymptomatic people – those with the virus who don’t show symptoms – so they can self isolate and drive down infection rates.

Three more towns will introduce mass testing schemes in a bid to tackle coronavirus – after Liverpool’s city-wide swabbing programme (pictured) launched earlier this week

The PM will announce the plans as early as tomorrow in a bid to ensure the testing regime expands over the next month and it would help him guarantee the second national lockdown will be lifted on December 2. 

Around 1,000 soldiers will be deployed to help get people tested in the three towns which are yet to be identified.   

After the mass scheme was launched in the large city of Liverpool, the government now wants to see how a similar programme could work in a smaller or more rural town. 

A senior government source told The Times: ‘The point about mass testing is that if you can test a lot of people who have the virus, but don’t have symptoms, and you can get them to isolate, you can reduce the spread of the disease.’

The Prime Minister will announce that more than 100,000 people will be told to get tested in the three towns, including one in the Midlands and another in the south of England. Pictured: Soldiers preparing to swab Liverpool residents for coronavirus at Croxteth Sports Centre yesterday

Further sites have been selected in Wales and Scotland for a third wave of mass weekly testing.   

Later this week, the government is expected to reduce the time required to self-isolate from 10 or 14 days to seven days.   

Whitehall sources say that the Department of Health want to use the army to lead the nationwide ‘moonshot’ testing programme.

More than 2,000 army troops were sent to Liverpool earlier this week to begin mass testing which aims to swab the entire city’s 500,000 people.

Lieutenant-General Tyrone Urch, who commands the 7,500-strong military Covid Support Force, said thousands more military personnel are on standby if required to expand the mass testing regime.

He added: ‘First and foremost this is a pilot. We don’t know where it will go. It has potential to roll out more widely. I am sure if government demands it and the secretary of state Ben Wallace approves we could do the same again. This is definitely scalable.’    

Up to 12,000 Liverpudlians were screened for coronavirus on the first day of the city’s mass testing programme, its public health director said yesterday, insisting the initial progress was ‘very encouraging’ despite hour-long queues where people mixed with others who were potentially infected with the virus. 

Liverpool’s Matt Ashton said they were ‘still working on the numbers’ but initial estimates suggest there were about 1,500 to 2,000 people tested at each of the six testing sites.

Boris Johnson (pictured taking a test in Leicester this week) has ordered the mass-swabbing in an attempt to identify asymptomatic people

Further swabbing yesterday came as hundreds marched through the streets in Liverpool to protest against the second national lockdown

A further eight sites were opened on Saturday, as the Government ramped up capacity to reach its target of 50,000 tests a day once the city-wide programme becomes fully operational.  

But some residents decried the first day of the mass testing regime as a ‘shambles’ because those who were well were forced to mingle in hour-long queues with people potentially infected with Covid-19.

Photographer David Colbran, 51, told MailOnline yesterday he was left queuing up with people that had symptoms despite feeling well and said ‘it’s not until you get to the first person in hi-vis that they ask you if you have symptoms and you realise you have been stood with people who have symptoms for over an hour’.

The Department of Health is expecting to publicly release the results on how many positive swabs it had completed on Friday, a spokesman said.

Further swabbing yesterday came as hundreds marched through the streets in Liverpool to protest against the second national lockdown. A clip showed them marching past one of the city’s testing centres.

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