More people across the UK will be offered coronavirus tests in a bid to keep track of local outbreaks and reduce infection rates ahead of winter.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey will test 150,000 people per fortnight by October and will extend to cover Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Currently, 28,000 people are tested for coronavirus per fortnight in England.

The survey is separate from the mass testing programme of people with symptoms.

It tests thousands of people in households representative of the population, whether or not they have symptoms.


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Health Secretary Matt Hancock described it as "one of the biggest expansions of surveillance testing we have ever seen".

He said: "This ONS survey will be a crucial part of this work – improving our understanding of the rate of infection in the population and how many people have antibodies.

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"This will allow us to further narrow down the areas potentially affected by local outbreaks and continue our fight to curb the spread ahead of winter."

Commenting on the government's handling of coronavirus so far, Tony Blair said it would be "unusual and odd if mistakes weren't made".

He told Sky News on Wednesday: "The challenge is enormous at every level.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair has said a second UK lockdown would be catastrophically damaging for the economy and that mass testing must start

"I think the government would acknowledge we were too slow to lockdown.

"I'm not really interested in criticising at this point, but now I think it's clear we've got to put this testing infrastructure in place."

If there is a second peak, he says "I think it's very hard to see how you go back into lockdown – at least without really catastrophic economic damage".

It comes as Heathrow Airport unveiled a new coronavirus testing facility which it hopes will prompt the end of the mandatory 14-day quarantine for those returning from certain countries.

Passengers landing in the UK will be able to book swab tests and have results sent to them in seven hours under the scheme, which is being used in GRead More – Source