Coronavirus testing for secondary school pupils to be introduced

Secondary school pupils in a classroom

Secondary school pupils in seven London boroughs are set to get coronavirus tests. - Credit: Jacob King/PA

Secondary school pupils are set to get coronavirus tests even if they have no symptoms in a bid to keep the case rate under control.

Health secretary Matt Hancock revealed today (Thursday, December 10) that tests would be introduced immediately in the seven worst affected London boroughs.

The latest Public Health England data puts Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Newham among the top seven boroughs for case rates, alongside Waltham Forest, Bexley and Enfield.

Schools in parts of Essex and Kent will also be involved in the initiative.

Mr Hancock said: "We want to keep schools open because that is both right for education and for public health.

"We are therefore surging mobile testing units and will be working with schools and local authorities to encourage these children and their families to get tested over the coming days.

"It is important that 11 to18-year-olds get tested in these boroughs, irrespective of whether they have symptoms."

Details on how the testing process will work are set to be announced tomorrow (Friday, December 11), but the health secretary confirmed both PCR and lateral flow tests would be used.

Mr Hancock added: "Looking into the detail, the testing results and survey shows us that by far the fastest rise is among secondary school age children, while the rate among adults in London is broadly flat.

"But we know from experience that a sharp rise in case in younger people can lead to a rise among more vulnerable age groups later.

"We need to do everything we can to stop the spread among school age children in London right now - we must not wait until the [tier] review, which will take place on December 16. We need to take targeted action immediately."

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He explained that he said he "didn't want to pre-empt" any decision that might be made about moving London and parts of the south-east of England into Tier 3.

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