A new Covid-19 test that can yield results within 20 minutes that tells someone if the virus is being tested.
Up to 4,000 people will participate in a pilot in Hampshire after the rapid test proved effective in clinical settings, the Department of Health said.
The swab test will be conducted in a number of A&E departments, GP test hubs and nursing homes in the province in a trial lasting up to six weeks.
The loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) swab can be processed on-site instead of having to be sent to a lab, and may mean that depending on the outcome, healthcare workers may return to a shift or isolate on the same day they taking the test.
This is different from the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests that have to be processed at different temperatures, meaning it takes longer to get results.
The new trial comes amid criticism that people have waited days or weeks to get test results.
If the pilot succeeds, the test developed by British manufacturer Optigene will be rolled out more widely, the department said.
Individuals with symptoms are given priority when testing in the emergency departments and out-patient centers, but all employees and residents are tested in healthcare facilities, whether they are symptomatic or not.
Hampshire Hospital NHS Trust, which is leading the trial, will work closely with local authorities to identify the health care facilities to visit and test, the department added.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “This new test can provide accurate results almost on the spot. This will allow health and care providers to continue their service or to isolate themselves immediately on the same day, and could ultimately bring the same benefit across the country.
“This could change the way we control Covid-19 across the country, bringing people with negative outcomes back into society as soon as possible.
“I am extremely grateful to everyone in Hampshire for making this innovation possible.”
Chief Executive Alex Whitfield said, “We are thrilled to support the government’s efforts to provide more accessible and faster coronavirus testing.
“Our ability to do this is testament to the hard work and ingenuity of our entire microbiology department, from clinical scientists and the laboratory team to academics and industry volunteers, as well as staff in the departments.
“We are very much looking forward to the results of this trial and the benefits it will bring to the community we serve.”
This antigen test, which shows whether you currently have the virus, is different from antibody tests, which show whether you have already had the virus.