In addition, Matt Hancock says contact tracing is also being rolled out. The Health Secretary says that 21,000 contact tracers have now been hired, up from 17,000 at the weekend. Mr Hancock has exceeded the target he set himself, which was originally 17,000. Mr Hancock says the number of volunteers includes 750 healthcare professionals.
How can I get the coronavirus test for over 5s?
Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said: “We are expanding eligibility for testing further than ever before.
“Yesterday we conducted 11,678 tests. Every day we are creating more capacity and that means more people can be tested, and the virus has fewer places to hide.
“Today, I can announce to the House that everyone aged five or over with symptoms is now eligible for a test.
“That applies right across the UK in all four nations from now. Anyone with a new continuous cough, a high temperature or the loss or change of sense of taste or smell can book a test.”
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People can get tested for the virus by visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus and signing up.
Mr Hancock, for the first time, has said that people experiencing a loss or change int heir sense of smell – even without the presence of other COVID-19 symptoms – should self isolate for seven days.
Mr Hancock told the House of Commons: “The four UK chief medical officers have today updated the case definition to include a new symptom.
“Throughout this pandemic we have said that if you develop a new, continuous cough or a fever, then you should immediately self isolate.
“From today, we are including anosmia, which means that if you have lost your sense of smell or are experiencing a change in your normal sense of smell or taste, that can be a symptom of coronavirus, even where other symptoms are not present.
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“So, from today, if you develop a continuous cough, or fever or anosmia you should immediately self-isolate for at least seven days in line with the guidelines.
Members of your household should also self-isolate for fourteen days.”
Mr Hancock told MPs that the “number of people in hospital with coronavirus is half what it was at the peak. He added that the “number of patients in critical care is down by two-thirds.”
The NHS contact tracing app is also expected to launch across the country “in the coming weeks”, according to Downing Street – despite Mr Hancock assuring it would arrive in mid-May.
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The app has been downloaded an estimated 60,000 times during its trial on the Isle of Wight.
Mr Hancock said the Government was “pleased with the progress” being made in the trial, but Downing Street said experts were “carefully studying” the results and “expert to be able to improve the app based on user feedback”.
The app was developed by NHSX, the digital arm of the health service, as opposed to a prototype suggested by Apple and Google.
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said: “As with any tech project of this site, you would expect us to keep all options under review to make sure the app is as effective as possible.”
When quizzed about the highly anticipated antibody tests, Mr Hancock said the Government had reached the “closing stages” of purchasing negotiations.
A test developed by Swedish pharmaceutical Roche was approved for use last week by Public Health England.
Mr Hancock told MPs: “I think the whole country celebrated when there was the announcement last week that antibody testing that fits the bill and does the job had been approved by our Porton Down labs.
“We are in the closing stages of commercial negotiations to make sure that those tests are widely available.
“I will let him [MP Andrew Rosindell] know just as soon as I can when that roll-out is, but I don’t want to prejudice the commercial negotiations, which I’m sure he will understand.”
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