Mass testing is the ONLY way out of coronavirus lockdown – and Govt has been too slow, warns expert – The Sun
MASS testing is the only way the UK will be able to lift lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak, a top expert is warning.
UCL Professor Anthony Costello, a specialist in global health, admitted that the government should have ramped up testing earlier to quickly suppress transmission of the deadly bug.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
And he says lockdown could be lifted in six to eight weeks if the government follow in the footsteps of South Korea – who have carried out 400,000 tests and got Covid-19 under control.
Prof Costello's warning comes after the number of cases of coronavirus in the UK yesterday rose to 22,444, with the death rate standing at 1,408.
In particular, he says the UK will be able to stop self-isolating sooner and get the economy back on track if the government step up the amount of testing.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Prof Costello said: "We have two strategic aims, we want to suppress transmission of this virus and we want to get our economy going again as quickly as possible and to do that we need a policy of mass community testing as well as the blunt instrument of social distancing.
"We want to do that because we want to arrow in on detecting cases and contact and quarantine.
"We need to have enough tests to protect our health workers but more importantly we need to know where the infection is.
"The most important thing is when we want to loosen our lockdown we want to have control over that and by mass testing we will be able to detect new outbreaks and there will be much less disruption if we can do that rather than isolating the economy."
Prof Costello said the government should learn from South Korea, whose "trace, test, treat" policy is being lauded as one of the world's best approaches to tackling the virus.
"PHE were slow and controlled and they only allowed non Public Health England labs to start testing two weeks ago but that was after the strategy shift to stopping community tests," he said.
CORONAVIRUS CRISIS – STAY IN THE KNOW
Don't miss the latest news and figures – and essential advice for you and your family.
To receive The Sun's Coronavirus newsletter in your inbox every tea time, sign up here.
To follow us on Facebook, simply 'Like' our Coronavirus page.
Get Britain's best-selling newspaper delivered to your smartphone or tablet each day – find out more.
"We need to be like Korea – if you look at Korea they’ve done 400,000 tests.
"Their death rate is three per million and they’ve suppressed the virus."
Prof Costello also pointed out that South Korea introduced an app where those who tested positive for coronavirus would send in their symptoms twice a day so the government could monitor where they were abiding by quarantine.
While the Deputy Chief Medical Officer said the UK's coronavirus lockdown could be in place for six months earlier this week, Prof Costello said it could be more like six to eight weeks if testing is stepped up.
"I don’t think it will take six months – all the Asian states it was six to eight weeks of being able to lift the lockdown. Even in Wuhan which they’re doing right now," he said.
"And then we’ll have a control mechanism which will enable us to wait without socially distancing the whole country and wait until we can get drugs or a vaccine for herd immunity."
He urged the government to utilise the 44 molecular virology labs in the UK – claiming if they were doing 400 tests a day, we would be up to "Germany levels" of testing.
"I don’t see why we can’t get these 44 molecular virology labs up and running, finding the cases and testing," Prof Costello said.
"Obviously we do need a national lockdown for now but we want to get that lifted as soon as we can and mass testing will be the way we’re enabled to do that."
Earlier this week, it was revealed one in four Brits could get coronavirus tests in weeks to shorten the lockdown after the government agreed a deal to buy 17.5million kits.
The finger-prick test, which detects antibodies to the virus in the blood, is able to determine if someone has or has already had Covid-19.
When a person gets infected by the virus, the body starts making specially designed proteins called antibodies to fight the infection.
However, the Government made it clear that those tests will not be available for the public to buy and they will be prioritise NHS staff and key workers – like doctors and nurses – to enable people to go back to work.
Boots and Amazon will be used to distribute tests to NHS workers and other critical workers who are self-isolating – along Government lines.
Users or pharmacists will have to prick a finger and place a drop of blood on a stick, which looks like a home pregnancy test.
Some will give an immediate result and others must be returned to a lab. Results will be recorded on medical records.
Currently, Public Health England is only testing patients for Covid-19 in hospital with nasal swabs.
This test only shows whether someone has the virus – and not whether they have already recovered from it.
However, the new at-home test would reveal if someone has had the bug and built up immunity, and is therefore unlikely to catch it again.
Source: Read Full Article