A CORONAVIRUS home test kit will be available "within days" – from Amazon and Boots, the Government has revealed.
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.
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MPs heard that 3.5 million antibody tests have now been bought and will allow key workers – like doctors and nurses – to go back to work.
It comes as…
- Prince Charles tested positive for coronavirus and is currently self-isolating in Scotland
- A 21-year-old woman was named as the UK's youngest coronavirus victim with no existing health concerns
- Brits started to shame their neighbours for ignoring strict government lockdown laws
- Cops were filmed shouting at Brit sunbathers telling them "it's not a holiday, it's a lockdown"
- Researchers have warned coronavirus could have already infected half the UK population
Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England (PHE), told the Science and Technology Committee that the public will be able to carry out coronavirus antibody tests at home "within days".
She said a small number of the checks would be tested in a laboratory before being distributed via Amazon and in places like Boots.
Prof Peacock added: "Once we are assured that they do work, they will be rolled out into the community.
"Testing the test is a small matter, and I anticipate that it will be done by the end of this week.
"In the near future people will be able to order a test that they can test themselves, or go to Boots, or somewhere similar to have their finger-prick test done."
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.
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A Boots UK spokesperson told The Sun Online: “We are keen to work with the Government to explore opportunities to support Covid-19 testing and to support the NHS in any way we can.
"However we do not have any type of Covid-19 tests in our stores.
"Customers should not make a trip to a Boots store or pharmacy for this purpose.”
A British firm called SureScreen Diagnostics say they have created a finger-prick test called Covid-19 Rapid Test Cassette.
The company, based in Derby, said it can determine with 98 per cent certainty if a person has coronavirus.
It involves taking a blood sample via finger prick and then putting it into a screening device.
SureScreen the test could potentially save delays in diagnosis. as results are shown within minutes in the same way to those of an at-home pregnancy test.
However, it is unclear what company the government has acquired the at-home kits from.
Ramping up tests
Last week, the Prime Minister announced that Covid-19 testing in hospitals would be ramped up from 5,000 to 25,000 a day.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jenny Harries, had said there was also an "ambition" for people to test themselves from home.
She said at a Downing St press briefing last week: "It is very much an ambition to have a home-based test, as we don't want infectious people arriving in hospital.
"We recognise the public, and particularly key workers, want to understand their health status."
Elsewhere, Stephen Powis, NHS England medical director, said members of the public were answering the Government's call to become volunteers to support the vulnerable.
He told BBC Breakfast there had been "outbreaks of altruism and people wanting to help", adding that he was "bowled over" by medics returning to the front line and the response from people signing up to help those in need.
Yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock called for 250,000 people to sign up as volunteers.
Prof Powis said: "Overnight 170,000 people have signed up – that's three a minute to help the NHS.
"It's an absolutely astonishing response."
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Prof Powis added testing for NHS workers was being ramped up as quickly as possible, adding that people must play their part by adhering to the instructions laid down by the Prime Minister.
"When I see groups of 20 having a BBQ, frankly this is putting pressure on our NHS, it is potentially costing lives and it means we need more ventilators," he said.
"That just has to stop, that behaviour has to stop. You are putting untold pressure on the NHS by that behaviour."
The chairman of the Doctors' Association UK, Dr Rinesh Parmar, has warned that medics will be forced to leave the profession over a lack of personal protective equipment available to safely treat patients during the pandemic.
Last night, Mr Hancock announced that an exhibition centre in London will be converted into a new NHS hospital.
He confirmed that a temporary hospital – the NHS Nightingale hospital – would be opening at London's ExCeL centre, with 4,000 beds spread across two wards.
Mr Hancock also said 11,788 recently retired NHS staff had responded to the call to return to the service, including 2,660 doctors, more than 2,500 pharmacists and other staff and 6,147 nurses.
Some 5,500 final-year medics and 18,700 final-year student nurses will also "move to the front line" next week.
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