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The plan for mass testing is the first bit of good news we have had

The news that millions of tests for the coronavirus may be available within days is the first bit of good news to emerge from this crisis. Prof Sharon Peacock, the director of the national infection service at Public Health England, told the Commons science and technology committee yesterday that mass testing in the UK might be possible by next week, though its efficacy still had to be validated. The country will be praying that her confidence is justified.

The Government has bought 3.5 million new tests which will be used for critical workers, including the NHS staff who are self-isolating with symptoms. The Government is ordering millions more to be delivered to people with mild illness.

People will then know they have coronavirus and can function normally when they have recovered or if they are immune. The Prince of Wales is among those who has tested positive already and is self-isolating with what are described as “mild” symptoms. A further test for antibodies is also said to be close. These scientific developments will not stop a spike in serious cases that are already expected to grow rapidly in the coming days and peak in about a fortnight.