CITY leaders in Southampton have called for a mass Covid-19 testing scheme to be brought to the city to help get life back to normal.

Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith and Southampton councillor Lorna Fielker both told the Daily Echo that they would like to see the programme, which is currently being piloted in Liverpool, come to the south coast.

It comes after health secretary Matt Hancock announced that the potentially groundbreaking project was due to be rolled out across 67 authorities in England.

Daily Echo:

Public Health England figures showed that in Southampton another 51 people had tested positive for coronavirus in the 24 hours leading up to 9am on Wednesday, and the latest numbers reveal that 219 people have died of Covid-19 at Southampton General Hospital.

Mass testing aims to identify healthy people who may be infected but are not displaying any symptoms. They can then be told to isolate and thus prevented from spreading the virus.

Last night Mr Smith said: “I very much hope Southampton will be included in this excellent scheme.

“We will defeat coronavirus but there won’t be a single solution.

“The more tests we can have, in addition to good hygiene and face coverings, the quicker life will be able to return to normal.”

Daily Echo:

Mr Hancock has written to directors of public health across the country over providing “10% of their population per week” with tests.

An initial 600,000 testing kits are being issued to certain local areas in the coming days as part of the government’s plan to expand asymptomatic testing for Covid-19.

Initially 10,000 tests will be made available to each area to help them start testing priority groups.

Cllr Fielker, the city council’s cabinet member for health, said: “The government’s announcement of the roll-out of lateral flow testing to 67 most-affected areas is good news.

“Though Southampton is not included in this initial priority list, we hope to be included in future roll-outs.”

Daily Echo:

The new tests, which have been used in a pilot scheme in Liverpool, have a turnaround time of under an hour.

Other areas due to receive the tests include Birmingham, Bristol, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Sunderland and Wolverhampton, plus several London boroughs.

Tests have been available since Friday for people who live and work in Liverpool and do not have symptoms.

Speaking in the House of Commons Mr Hancock said: “Last night I wrote to 67 directors of public health who have expressed an interest in making 10,000 tests available immediately and making available lateral flow tests for use by local officials, according to local needs.”