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Coronavirus tests to be made available as hundreds of thousands volunteer for NHS

CORONAVIRUS home-testing kits will be made available widely after being distributed next week, it was reported today.

The tests, which can be carried out in 15 minutes, will be targeted at people in quarantine at home and will be available from pharmacists.

An initial 3.5 million kits have been bought by Public Health England (PHE), but more have been ordered.

Some tests will be delivered directly to people’s homes through online retail company Amazon.

Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the national infection service at PHE, said: “These are brand new products. We have to be clear they work as they are claimed to do. 

“Once they have been tested this week and the bulk of tests arrive, they will be distributed into the community.”

She said that any charge for the kits would be “minimal.”

The tests involve a finger prick of blood, which the kit analyses, producing a result in 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile this week volunteers came forward in their tens of thousands to make up for NHS shortages caused by a decade of Tory cuts and privatisation.

A target of 250,000 volunteers was met within 24 hours of the call from the government. Volunteers will deliver medicines, drive patients to appointments and phone isolated people. 

The scheme is one of a number aimed at relieving pressure on the NHS. About 11,000 former medics have also agreed to return to the health service and more than 24,000 final-year student nurses and medics will join them.

But the Keep Our NHS Public campaign (KONP) accused the Tories of being fixated on exploiting voluntary work to support the NHS.

KONP co-chair and paediatrician Dr John Puntis said: “The Tories are obsessed with getting unpaid labour to support the failing health and care systems wrecked by years of austerity and underinvestment.

“Of course many people will want to help others, and this is already happening with spontaneous setting-up of community groups in neighbourhoods all around the country.

“How about first recruiting all those workers who have lost their jobs to perform these tasks and paying them for it?”

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