Coronavirus home testing kits expected in United Kingdom retailers 'within days'

A graph showing the rise in the number of countries with coronavirus

A graph showing the rise in the number of countries with coronavirus

It is unclear whether the tests would be available for purchase outside of the UK. Public Health England is now testing the tests, a No 10 official told reporters in a briefing this afternoon.

Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, revealed on Wednesday that millions of such a test have been ordered and could be used "in the near future".

Asked if the availability of the test to the public would be a number of days rather than weeks or months, she replied: "Absolutely".

The antibody test will aim to establish whether somebody has recovered from COVID-19, rather than whether they now have it.

Simple home-testing kits which indicate whether somebody has ever been infected with the coronavirus will available to order in the United Kingdom within days, Members of Parliament have been told.

The news comes as the United Kingdom has entered lockdown in an attempt to stop the further spread of the novel coronavirus, and will hopefully allow people - including NHS doctors and nurses - to make quicker and more accurate decisions about the patients they are seeing who have symptoms. "We are not alone in doing this", she said.

The Government is coming under intense pressure to increase testing, particularly for frontline NHS staff so those who are negative can get back to work.

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The test will then be "spread out" to the general population, he said.

Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, told the United Kingdom parliament on Wednesday that the group had developed finger-prick tests which establish whether a person has ever been infected with the virus.

"But we do need to ensure we understand how they operate, because these are brand new tests".

Prof Peacock said a small number of tests - which show whether an individual has antibodies for Covid-19 - would be tested in a laboratory before being distributed via Amazon and in places like Boots.

The antibody tests analyse blood extracted with a finger prick and produce results in 10-15 minutes.

"Once we are assured that they do work, they will be rolled out into the community", Peacock told the Health & Science select committee on Wednesday.

The tests "can see if you have antibodies, in which case you know you had the infection", she added.

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