“There has been a huge amount of work to develop these new testing capabilities and I want to thank colleagues across NHS Test and Trace, Public Health England and the wider scientific community for ensuring that we are one of the first countries in the world who are able to deploy these new tests for the benefit of our public.”
Local authorities in Greater Manchester are set to receive 10,000 rapid Covid-19 tests.
The rapid-turnaround tests are currently being trialled in Liverpool, and will now be sent to public health directors in Greater Manchester’s ten boroughs.
The tests can provide results within an hour and do not need to be processed in a lab.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “Last week we rolled out mass testing in Liverpool using new, rapid technology so we can detect this virus quicker than ever before, even in people who don’t have symptoms.
“Mass testing is a vital tool to help us control this virus and get life more normal.
“I am delighted to say 10,000 of these tests will now be sent out by NHS Test and Trace to over 50 directors of public health as part of our asymptomatic testing strategy.
“I want to thank all directors of public health for their support and efforts over the past months to help us tackle this virus, bring it under control and get the country back to what we love doing.”
Health chiefs in Greater Manchester will decide who receives the tests based on groups of priority people.
Each local authority will receive an initial batch of 10,000 followed up by a weekly allocation of lateral flow antigen tests equivalent of 10% of the area’s population.
Parts of Lancashire, including Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool, have also been chosen as part of the new scheme.
In Liverpool, 16 testing sites have been set up since Friday as well as a number of mobile units delivering home testing kits.
Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, Dido Harding said: “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.
“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.
Snow ‘likely’ to hit the North West as ’11-day flurry of snowfall’ forecast in UK from Thursday
Winter is well and truly here.
Temperatures are expected to continue to drop across the UK with freezing fog, gales of up to 50mph and some snow.
Although the Scottish Highlands are expected to see the worst of the predicted 11-day flurry of snowfall from Thursday, there is a possibility snow could fall ‘almost anywhere’ on the weekend, according to the Met Office.
From Thursday, BBC meteorologist Chris Fawkes, explains there will be murky weather over much of Britain. He said: “We start off with murky weather in the week ahead, but then outbreaks of rain will develop – winds strengthen as the week goes by, it will then turn colder, significantly, through Thursday and Friday.”
A Met Office spokesperson added: “We could see some snow falling in showers almost anywhere across the UK on Friday and next weekend.”
The Met Office forecast for the North West from this Friday, December 4th, until Sunday December 13th predicts ‘unsettled weather’, adding that ‘snow is likely’.
According to them: “The period will start unsettled across all parts of the UK, with areas of heavy rain and showers, locally of soft hail, sleet and snow likely, and possibly more widespread snow over some hills and mountains.
“Often windy, especially around coasts, but in quieter interludes overnight there will remain the potential for some patchy frost, and isolated mist and freezing fog.”
Heavy rain is set to hit the North West this lunchtime before the weather front moves in a southernly direction.
And be prepared to be de-icing your car again this week as the weather is set to get colder, potentially dropping to zero.
Northern England and Scotland are due 18 to 24 days of snow or ice this winter. Chills are more likely than past winters, according to the Met Office, who also predict snow flurries.
Leading bookmaker, Coral, said this could be the coldest December in the UK.
Toy store The Entertainer is closing for three days over Christmas to give staff a much-needed break
Popular toy chain The Entertainer is set to give its staff a three-day break over the festive period.
This year, the retailer will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and December 27th.
There are 171 The Entertainer shops across the UK and you will still be able to get last-minute prezzies on Christmas Eve between 8am and 5pm.
The toy store said it wants to give staff the time off to allow for quality time with families.
With Christmas Eve falling on Thursday this year, it means The Entertainer stores will not reopen again until December 28th, the following Monday.
The three day weekend will give staff ‘quality time’ with their families, and they will also be getting the additional day off as paid leave.
The Entertainer founder and executive chairman Gary Grant said: “Restrictions placed upon people over the last nine months have been incredibly testing.
“With the easing of restrictions for Christmas, we want to give our staff more opportunity to rest together with their families and loved ones for some quality time.”
The Entertainer joins Wickes, Home Bargains, Aldi, M&S and Pets at Home, who have all already confirmed they will remain shut on Boxing Day.
Andy Burnham calls on Greater Manchester MPs to unite and demand more support for businesses in the region
Mayor Andy Burnham has written an open letter to Greater Manchester’s MPs, urging them to demand a fair financial support package for business effected by the strictest tier system.
The letter, dated November 28th, begins with Burnham explaining he is seeking help in ‘raising issues of concern to us in next week’s debate’ in the House of Commons.
He goes on to explain that Greater Manchester being put into the strictest tier in the newly revised tier system – therefore putting Greater Manchester into its fourth month of continuous restrictions – was ‘disappointing, but it was perhaps not surprising’.
The infection rate in Greater Manchester remains above the average in England, putting significant pressure on hospitals across the region. However, it is falling at a rate faster than anywhere else in the UK, dropping by more than 45% over the last two weeks, compared to 39% across the North West and 13% across the rest of England.
Burnham goes on to explain that rates for over 65s are continuing to fall which points towards Tier 2 for all of Greater Manchester.
Given this, he calls for three critical issues to be raised that will benefit residents and businesses.
Firstly, a challenge on the December review. Given the figures, there’s a strong chance Greater Manchester will be in a similar position to those areas in Tier 2. However, the government has indicated major changes at the first review in a fortnight will not take place.
Secondly, he calls for a more balanced approach to the structure of Tier 3. Currently, Burnham explains the system disproportionately hits the hospitality sector, the industry that has spent ‘vast amounts of money’ putting Covid-secure measures in place. He is calling for the government to allow for a more ‘nuanced and flexible strategy’ to allow parts of the economy to reopen.
And finally, he is calling for financial support. He explains that in practice, those areas going into tier 3 will receive no more funding than those in tier 1 or 2.
To finish, Burnham said: “I hope very much that we will able to form a united, cross-party front on these three important issues for Greater Manchester.
“If you would like to discuss this matter with me – or need any further information on these matters – please do not hesitate to contact me.
“Thank you for all you have been doing to help Greater Manchester through these difficult times and in advance for any help you are able to provide in next week’s crucial debate.”
You can read the letter in full here.