Express & Star comment: Testing issue finally being addressed

The lack of an effective testing regime has been one of the biggest failings of this country's response to coronavirus.

Soldiers practice on themselves at the Liverpool Tennis Centre in Wavertree, before the start of the mass Covid-19 testing in Liverpool.
Soldiers practice on themselves at the Liverpool Tennis Centre in Wavertree, before the start of the mass Covid-19 testing in Liverpool.

Now, with the nation in the midst of a second national lockdown, there are signs that the issue is finally being addressed.

The mass testing programme in Liverpool has, up to this point, been a huge success, with more than 23,000 people undergoing tests at 18 centres since midday on Friday.

It has led to the scheme being rolled out to other local authorities, including here in the West Midlands.

We must be careful not to get ahead of ourselves. The latest pilot schemes test 10,000 people in each area – not quite the mass testing that is taking place on Merseyside.

They also focus on specific locations, with the idea being that NHS chiefs will be able to identify where people are most likely to travel to take a test.

However, there is no doubt that this is an important next step in our battle to defeat Covid-19.

The lateral flow tests are available to anyone, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.

Crucially, results are delivered quickly, meaning people who test positive can immediately self-isolate.

This not only reduces the chance of the virus being spread around our commuinites, it also gives health chiefs a true picture of infection levels in each area.

It is to be hoped that as many people as possible get involved in these pilot schemes, so that in the coming weeks the Government is in position to launch a national mass testing programme.

Taken together with the news regarding the roll out of a vaccine, this is an extremely encouraging development.

We must, however, proceed with caution. The virus is still amongst us and it will not disappear overnight.

We do not yet know when the vaccine will be ready, or how many people will need to have taken it before life can return to some form of normality.

What we can say, is that after months of misery, light has started to emerge at the end of the tunnel.

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