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Coronavirus: The UK’s coronavirus testing system – for so long a source of embarrassment for ministers – could get a major boost with millions of new fast turnaround tests, Boris Johnson has said.

The prime minister told a news conference on Friday the country is developing the capacity to manufacture millions of the tests, some of which could give results from saliva samples in just 15 minutes.

Mr Johnson said: “Scientists and companies in Britain and around the world have been developing new tests which are faster, simpler and cheaper.

“Though there is work to do, it is becoming clear over the past few weeks that some of these new tests are highly effective and can help us save lives and jobs over the winter.

“We’ve already bought millions of these tests, some of which are very simple, meaning you simply need to wipe the swab inside your mouth and can give a result as quickly as in 15 minutes,” he added.

“We’ve started building the infrastructure for domestic manufacture of these tests, ensuring that Britain has the ability to produce millions of fast tests here.

Over the next few weeks we will start distributing and trialling these tests across the country,” he said, adding that some of the fast tests are already being used in hospitals.

They would, he said, help to save lives and prevent the spread of the illness among medical workers, care homes and those working in education.

Test and Trace has been one of the most widely criticised aspects of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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