Government pumps £500million into trials of 20-minute coronavirus tests to help end social distancing restrictions

THE Government is injecting £500million into mass-testing trials which will deliver coronavirus results in 20 minutes.

In a drive to get Britain back to work, the new projects will help deliver routine testing for public sector workers, school children, office workers and shoppers.

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And the quick results time will allow people who test positive to self-isolate faster and return to work immediately if they are negative.

Boris Johnson said yesterday that the trials could "end the need for social distancing" if they are rolled out in workplaces across the UK.

Number 10 said the PM had later praised the new tests as a "potential game-changer" which could enable the country to return to normality.

A government insider told the Daily Mail: "If people know that everyone in their office has been tested that week, it is going to give them a lot more confidence that is it safe to come back to work."

The £500m trials will involve either rapid tests or repeat swabbing of people who do not display symptoms.

Within days, trials for the 20 minute tests will be carried out in Salford, Greater Manchester, Southampton and Hampshire.

The remaining cash will go towards expanding two trials of tests that deliver results in 90 minutes which are currently being carried out in NHS hospitals and care homes.

A Number 10 source said the Prime Minister was "hugely enthusiastic" about the trials and the Government is "throwing everything at it."

The insider said that if the rapid testing "works and can be scaled up around the country" then it could allow "people to more of their freedom back."

By next February, the government aims to be carrying out four million tests every day as part of a drive dubbed "Operation Moon Shot" by Health Minister Matt Hancock.

Mr Hancock said: "Testing is a vital line of defence in combating this pandemic.

"We are backing innovative new tests that are fast, accurate and easier to use and will maximise the impact and scale of testing, helping us to get back to a more normal way of life."

This comes as experts claim cheap and readily available steroids could help reduce the risk of dying from coronavirus.

Hydrocortisone, which costs as little as £5, was found to reduce the risk of death in critically ill patients by 20 per cent.

An international team of researchers analysed seven trials involving three different types of anti-inflammatory corticosteroids treatment.

The study, which was co-ordinated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), looked at patient mortality over a 28-day period after treatment.

It found that treatment with hydrocortisone led to an estimated 20 per cent reduction in the risk of death.

Researchers said it was equivalent to about 68 per cent of critically ill patients surviving after treatment with the steroids, compared to approximately 60 per cent surviving without them.

The results of the study, which included dexamethasone, hydrocortisone and methylprednisolone, were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Wednesday.

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