UK to Roll Out CCP Virus Tests for Asymptomatic People

UK to Roll Out CCP Virus Tests for Asymptomatic People
A sign shows traffic where to turn to enter a CCP virus testing centre in Oldham, England, on Aug. 20, 2020. (Lindsey Parnaby/AFP via Getty Images)
Alexander Zhang

Rapid regular CCP virus testing for people without symptoms will be made available across England starting this week, the UK government said on Sunday.

Local authorities are encouraged to prioritise people who cannot work from home during the lockdown in their community testing drive, the Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement.
Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the whole of England under the third national lockdown since the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring. Under the new restrictions, people are told to stay at home, but those who cannot work from home are allowed to travel to work.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that targeted asymptomatic testing and subsequent isolation is “highly effective in breaking chains of transmission.”

The government said that roughly one in three people who have contracted the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, do not display any symptoms.
"We need to use everything at our disposal to find these individuals without symptoms and support them and their contacts to isolate in order to break the chains of transmission," said Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for the National Health Service's Test and Trace.

The community testing will use lateral flow devices, which can produce a result in less than 30 minutes without the need for laboratory testing.

Hancock said that lateral flow tests, which have been used to identify over 14,800 COVID-19 cases, have been "hugely successful in finding positive cases quickly."

He encouraged employers to work with local authorities to scale up testing among their workers, as “every positive case found is helping to stop the spread.”

UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng encouraged more employers to take up the testing offer, saying that the expansion of asymptomatic testing for those unable to work from home will enable the UK to keep its economy "on the move while giving individuals in key sectors complete confidence that their workplace is safe."

The UK government's mass testing programme has been criticised by some medical experts. Weekly medical journal the BMJ said in a November 2020 editorial that the programme  was "an unevaluated, under-designed, and costly mess."

The editorial said that the mass testing programme shouldn't continue or be used as a basis of whether people should self-isolate until it has been externally and independently scrutinised.

Lily Zhou and Simon Veazey contributed to this report.