THE UK has been testing as many people as possible for the coronavirus and efforts to slow the spread of the outbreak continue.
But how can you get tested and what is an anti-body testing kit?
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How do I get tested for coronavirus in the UK?
Currently only people in hospital are being tested, so if you have symptoms and you're not sure if you have the virus, you may well not be able to find out – even if you're working for the NHS.
The government has said that 104,866 people had so far been tested, but that it wants to see 25,000 tests being done a day within four weeks.
There are two main reasons for testing people: to diagnose them individually, and to try to understand how far the virus has spread in the wider population.
This second reason is known as "surveillance testing".
The UK is not currently doing any mass surveillance testing or actively tracing people who have come into contact with known cases.
Not testing more widely means lots of Brits might be self-isolating for no good reason, including NHS workers.
What is an anti-body testing kit?
The government has announced the purchase of 3.5 million anti-body testing kit.
The kits test don't test whether you currently have the virus, but they can say whether your body has the specific anti-bodies to fight it off.
The presence of anti-bodies indicates that you've had the virus in the past.
Knowing how many people had had the virus would help the government to model its spread and to estimate the proportion of the population that is currently immune.
Government advisers have said that the anti-body tests will be a key step in slowing the outbreak and getting the country back to normal.
When will the kits be available?
The tests can be used at home, but it's not yet clear how quickly they will be made available.
The government's chief medical officer Chris Witty has said: “The key thing for us to do is evaluate – are these tests accurate enough to be used by the general public?
“If they are incredibly accurate, we will work out the quickest way to release them. If they are not accurate, we will not release any of them.”
Reports have suggested the kits would be available in the coming weeks.
The government has said NHS staff and key workers – such as doctors and nurses – would be prioritised.
The tests will be distributed by Boots and Amazon.
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Prof Sharon Peacock, from the National Infection Service, said they will be sold for a small fee or given away free of charge.
Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that the government was prioritising ensuring that tests are accurate over rolling them out quickly.
He told Wednesday's daily briefing: “That is so important that if it means a delay to get there, that delay is worth having."
What is the coronavirus test?
Testing for coronavirus looks for signs of infection in blood, other bodily fluids or secretions.
There are a number of ways the virus can be tested.
- Blood – this involves the collection of a blood sample from a blood vessel in your arm.
- Nasal – this is when a saline is inserted into the nose and removed with gentle suction.
- Sputum – this involves the patient coughing up mucus from the lungs into a cup or a swab used to take mucus from the nose.
- Tracheal aspirate – this requires a thin lighted tube inserted into the mouth and down the lungs, where a sample will be collected.
Testing for the virus comes with some minor side effects, including tingling and slight discomfort. These however, are temporary.
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