Britain

Operation ‘moonshot’: PM sets out plan for testing ‘millions’ of people a day

Boris Johnson has spoken of his hope for regular mass coronavirus testing of the population as a route back to a more normal life.

The prime minister said the government is "working hard" to increase daily COVID-19 testing capacity to 500,000 by the end of next month.

But he said the long-term ambition was for millions of coronavirus tests to be processed every day, with some results potentially being turned around in as little as 20 minutes.

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Mr Johnson characterised at as the "Moonshot approach".

He was speaking at a Downing Street news conference to announce a ban on social gatherings of more than six people in England from Monday.

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The PM said: "Up to now, we have used testing primarily to identify people who are positive – so we can isolate them from the community and protect high risk groups."

While he said that will "continue to be our priority", Mr Johnson said he wanted to "in the near future" begin to use testing to "identify people who are negative – who don't have coronavirus and who are not infectious".

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The PM said this would allow them to "behave in a more normal way, in the knowledge they cannot infect anyone else with the virus".

"And we think, we hope, we believe that new types of test which are simple, quick and scalable will become available," Mr Johnson added.

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