Citywide Covid-19 testing pilot begins today in Liverpool

6 November 2020, 08:08

Liverpool is the first area to have citywide testing
Liverpool is the first area to have citywide testing. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Liverpool's citywide mass coronavirus testing programme has begun, with the city mayor saying the pilot is "an incredible opportunity to turbocharge our efforts to reduce coronavirus in the city".

Liverpool city Mayor Joe Anderson said the city has "absolutely nothing to lose" by taking part in the first trial.

Under the new scheme, the first citywide testing in the UK, everyone living or working in Liverpool will be offered repeat tests whether or not they have symptoms.

Read more: Armed forces arrive at Pontins ahead of Liverpool mass coronavirus testing

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Mayor Joe Anderson said the testing pilot could save lives, stop hospitals being overwhelmed and "get the city out of tier three restrictions".

"This is an incredible opportunity to turbocharge our efforts to reduce coronavirus in the city," he said.

"We are excited to be leading on this project, supported by the Department of Health and Social Care.

"Let's all get tested, for our families, our mates, our Liverpool and set an example to the country and the world."

New testing sites have been set up in schools, universities, care homes and workplaces.

Hundreds of soldiers have been deployed to a holiday park in Merseyside as Liverpool prepares for a mass coronavirus testing programme.

Military and police vehicles were seen entering the park, usually a holiday destination for families visiting the seaside resort, through an entrance manned by Army personnel.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "hugely grateful" to the people of Liverpool for taking part in the pilot.

He said he hoped that "together we can get that great city on top of the virus".

Liverpool was the first city to be placed under Tier 3 restrictions
Liverpool was the first city to be placed under Tier 3 restrictions. Picture: PA

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the pilot should last for approximately two weeks.

Liverpool City Region was the first area to be put into the Level three alert level of England's three tier system before the national lockdown on Thursday.

The latest figures showed Liverpool recorded 330 cases per 100,000 in the week up to 1 November. The average for areas in England is 156.

And Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp also joined the calls for city residents to get tested.

In a video message posted on the club's Twitter account, he said: "Do it for yourself, your family, your colleagues and your city. Let's do it together, let's do it for Liverpool."

A Liverpool Council spokeswoman said more test centres will open in the coming days and that the pilot is expected to last for an initial 10 days, with a view to it being extended.

Director of Public Health for Liverpool Matt Ashton said: "The aim of this project is to quickly identify people who have the virus and reduce transmission substantially.

"This exciting mass testing programme simply means asking everyone to volunteer to be tested, and for those who test positive to self-isolate straight away and prevent others from getting it

"This is a pilot scheme and we won't get everything right, but it is a huge chance to drive down transmission rates and get life back to normal more quickly."

The army have been brought in to aid the programme
The army have been brought in to aid the programme. Picture: PA

Speaking when the initiative was announced on Monday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "We will be deploying 2,000 talented Armed Forces personnel to, once again, rise to the challenges posed by Covid-19 to ensure we go above and beyond for the Liverpool community - we will have your backs throughout the trial.

"The military are uniquely placed to help with the fight against Covid-19 and remain ready to support with the mass testing initiative in Liverpool along with the additional needs of the country at this time."

The aim of the programme is to find asymptomatic cases in order to help prevent and reduce transmission in the community.