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UK Expands Asymptomatic Coronavirus Testing Program

NEW YORK — The UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said on Tuesday that it will provide roughly 670,000 rapid SARS-CoV-2 tests to local public health officials this week to expand testing in asymptomatic individuals.

According to DHSC, batches of 10,000 lateral flow antigen tests will be provided to 67 directors of public health across England, who will prioritize the allocation of the tests to different groups based on the specific needs of their communities. Additional antigen tests will be provided weekly, with the number of tests equivalent to 10 percent of a region's population.

The tests will be rolled out under the UK National Health Service's (NHS) Test and Trace program.

"I am delighted that as part of our expansion of testing we are able to partner with local authorities to deliver these new rapid turnaround tests to our local communities," Dido Harding, interim executive chair of the National Institute for Heath Protection, said in a statement. "Building on national capacity of 500,000 tests a day, we are now moving to the next stage of testing tailored around the individual needs of local areas with control in the hands of local directors of public health."

Earlier this month, the NHS kicked off its effort to widely test asymptomatic people for SARS-CoV-2 infection in Liverpool with the establishment of 16 testing sites, various mobile testing units, and a program to deliver home test kits in the city.