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Test for coronavirus rolled out by Public Health England

A novel coronavirus diagnostic test developed by Public Health England (PHE) is being rolled out to laboratories across the UK. The increase in diagnostic capacity from one laboratory in London to 12 elsewhere over the coming weeks will accelerate the country’s testing capabilities.

The UK was one of the first countries outside China to have assured testing capability for the new coronavirus. At PHE’s laboratories in London, it has the capacity to process samples from more than 100 people a day.

To ensure that the country is prepared for further cases and to speed up the time from a sample being taken to a result in the laboratory, the test will be carried out by trained scientists across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This increases testing capacity to more than 1000 people a day for England.

Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director, Public Health England, said: "Once China confirmed that they had identified a novel coronavirus, Public Health England was ready to test potential cases in this country. We have now trained scientists in laboratories across the UK to conduct the specialist test – ensuring that we are well prepared should we begin to see an increased number of cases across the country."

The roll-out to other parts of the UK is the fastest deployment of a new test to PHE and NHS laboratories in recent history.

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