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Coronavirus tests in just 90 minutes as ministers unveil two new checks ahead of winter

The new checks will support the Government’s NHS Test and Trace programme for Covid-19. (Image: PA)

2 min read

Two new coronavirus tests able to detect the virus in 90 minutes will be handed to NHS hospitals, care homes and labs, Matt Hancock has announced.

The Health Secretary said “millions” of the new checks would be made available ahead of the winter for “on the spot results“.

The new tests will be able to detect Covid-19 as well as other winter viruses including flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

The Government says the ability to distinguish between Covid-19 and seasonal illnesses will help boost the NHS’s response at a time when the health service typically runs at near-full capacity.

The tests can be used without a trained health professional in non-clinical settings.

One of the two tests uses DNA to detect the virus, and will be launched in NHS hospitals from September and supported by 5,000 DNA machines from London-based firm DnaNudge. 

It will provide a positive or negative result for the virus in 90 minutes at the point of care, with the new machines able to process 15 tests a day without the need for a lab. 

The Government says it is in talks to secure more DNA testing machines to support the drive.

Meanwhile 450,000 swab tests by Oxford Nanopore will be deployed in care homes and laboratories from next week, with these checks able to detect the virus in 60-90 minutes. 

Mr Hancock said: “Millions of new rapid coronavirus tests will provide on the spot results in under 90 minutes, helping us to break chains of transmission quickly.

“The fact these tests can detect flu as well as COVID-19 will be hugely beneficial as we head into winter, so patients can follow the right advice to protect themselves and others.”

The Health Secretary added: “I am hugely grateful for the excellent work done by DnaNudge and Oxford Nanopore to push forward these life-saving innovations in coronavirus testing.”

The DNA test machines are already being used in eight London hospitals, with the equipment deployed in cancer wards, accident and emergency and maternity warns to protect people who are most at risk from Covid-19.

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