It is vital there is access to testing where it is needed the most. Steps have been taken by the Government to increase testing capacity, helping us to get to a point where everybody who wants to get tested is able to get tested. This has previously been difficult due to a shortage of the reagents needed for testing, but the Governments new testing strategy has seen a rapid increase in the scale of tests available.
This scale up gets us to 100,000 tests per day. This is a completely new mass-testing scale and will help ensure that workers can stay in work if they test negative, relieving pressure on the NHS.
We have expanded eligibility so that now, anyone who is displaying symptoms can be tested. There is a drive-through centre in Ebbsfleet where the majority of people will be tested, but home testing kits can also be ordered. A mobile testing unit will be moving around the county and will show up at a test location on the booking system if if is nearby and available.
As we reach our 100,000 per day testing target, we have great capacity, so that the vast majority of people who need a test are now able to get one. A significant proportion of the population are now eligible for testing, meaning that we can help further reduce the spread and allow people back to work where possible.
Currently, Medway has good capacity for testing, and I have been reassured that all those eligible for a test will be able to get one. All patients who need a test are able to get one, as well as staff on the front line of tackling the virus.
This service will help end the uncertainty of whether healthcare staff and other key workers need to stay at home. Those who test negative for coronavirus will be able to return to work - enhancing the capacity of the NHS and social care to treat patients and care for those in community settings. Testing will be further rolled out to other groups and workers as testing capabilities continue to rise.
In the Short-term the Government will continue to focus on the issue at hand and ramp up testing for patients with symptoms of the virus. In the longer term the Government is also looking antibody tests, which are designed to detect if people have had the virus and are now immune. These could potentially be done at home with a finger prick and deliver results in as little as twenty minutes. Government is currently working with several companies who are offering these tests and are evaluating their effectiveness. Antibody tests offer the hope that people who think they have had the disease will know they are immune and get back to life as normal. But crucially, they have to be proven to work.