Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

UK announces 'moonshot plan' for COVID-free passports

Plan involves mass testing with results returned within around 20 min, allowing those who test negative to enter venues

Karim El-Bar  | 09.09.2020 - Update : 10.09.2020
UK announces 'moonshot plan' for COVID-free passports


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced at a coronavirus briefing on Wednesday a “moonshot plan” for "COVID-free passports" that would allow people who test negative to return to normal life.

The plan involves mass testing with results returned within around 20 minutes, with a negative result allowing entry to venues such as theaters, concerts, or football stadiums among others.

“Up to now, we have used testing primarily to identify people who are positive – so we can isolate them from the community and protect high-risk groups. And that will continue to be our priority. We are working hard to increase our testing capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October,” Johnson said.

“But in future, in the near future, we want to start using testing to identify people who are negative – who don’t have coronavirus and who are not infectious - so we can allow them to behave in a more normal way, in the knowledge they cannot infect anyone else with the virus.

“And we think, we hope, we believe that new types of tests which are simple, quick and scalable will become available. They use swabs or saliva and can turn round results in 90 or even 20 minutes. Crucially, it should be possible to deploy these tests on a far bigger scale than any country has yet achieved – literally millions of tests processed every single day,” added Johnson.

The government’s chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser, who were also at the briefing, sounded less optimistic and more cautious than the prime minister.

The government also announced on Wednesday that across the UK a further 2,659 people tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to 355,219. A further of eight Brits also died from the disease over the past 24 hours, raising the tally to 41,594.

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