Coronavirus testing shambles as nurses ‘are told to return to work BEFORE getting the all-clear’

Row over testing

WHAT IS THE UK DOING NOW?

Around 5,000 tests are being carried out a day. 

Those are mostly patients who are already in hospital. 

Some 100 GP surgeries have agrees to carry out tests on patients, as part of surveillance to asses the prevalence. 

However, those who feel they have symptoms are being told to self-isolate without being routinely tested.

WHAT IS THE UK GOING TO DO?

Boris Johnson has vowed to increase tests to 25,000 a day, although it could take four weeks to reach that level.

He also said that health workers will be prioritised. Many have complained that they are being forced to stop work as they are unsure whether or not they have the disease.

The testing will be carried out in hospitals, but ministers have appealed for firms to help develop a swab test that can be used in the community. 

WHAT DO THE EXPERTS SAY?

The message from the World Health Organisation is ‘test test test’, to avoid trying to fight an outbreak ‘blindfolded’. South Korea says it has got on top of an outbreak with stringent testing. 

Medics have claimed that nurses have been asked to return to intensive care wards after being given the all clear within days of reporting coronavirus symptoms.

NHS staff are still not being routinely tested amid fury at Boris Johnson who has promised to ramp up nationwide testing for the deadly virus from 5,000 to 25,000, as well as a new ‘game changing’ antibody analysis.

Doctors have told The Telegraph that nurses are being hauled back into hospitals, including onto high-dependency wards, after just a few days of self isolating, despite the government guidelines stating that anyone with symptoms should remain at home for 14 days.

It comes amid confusion in hospitals over how to handle dwindling staff numbers as the virus rips it way through the UK, with the total infected now at more than 2,600, including 71 deaths.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister’s decision to close schools puts further strain on the NHS because a large proportion of nurses have young children who will need to be looked after at home. 

One medic at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust told The Telegraph they were told to self-isolate for seven days if they felt unwell but return before that time if they were feeling better.

Meanwhile nurses at the Manchester University NHS Trust were this week informed that they should continue working even if a family member was ill.

One practitioner in Manchester claimed that staffing levels were down by around 40 percent because of self-isolation.   

It comes as Mr Johnson last night announced a ‘game changing’ testing technology was on the horizon which would enable the UK to fend off the rampant global epidemic.   

The Prime Minister said: ‘The great thing about having a test to see whether you’ve had it enough, is suddenly a green light goes on above your head and you can go back to work safe and confident in the knowledge that you are most unlikely to get it again.

‘So for an economic point of view, from a social point of view, it really could be a game-changer. You can really see the potential of that advance, which, as I say, is coming down the track.’  

The announcement came amid mounting alarm about the low level of screening, with anger that NHS workers are being forced to self-isolate because they are unsure whether they have the disease or not.  

NHS staff are still not being routinely tested amid fury at Boris Johnson who has promised to ramp up nationwide testing for the deadly virus from 5,000 to 25,000 

A member of the public is swabbed at a drive through Coronavirus testing site set up in a car park on March 12, 2020 in Wolverhampton, England

A member of the public is swabbed at a drive through Coronavirus testing site set up in a car park on March 12, 2020 in Wolverhampton, England

A member of the public is swabbed at a drive through Coronavirus testing site set up in a car park on March 12, 2020 in Wolverhampton, England

Earlier on Wednesday, Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, said officials were also looking at Covid-19 tests that could be taken at home. She explained: ‘As we go forward, we have an ambition to have some sort of home-based test for the very reason which has been described here  – which is we don’t want potentially infectious people arriving in hospitals.’ 

Routine testing of suspected coronavirus sufferers was abandoned last week, when the government said it was no longer possible to ‘contain’ the spread. Instead those with symptoms are merely being urged to stay at home for a fortnight.  

Meanwhile, there are claims that celebrities have been paying for kits to check themselves at home.

The developments came as the UK death toll soared by around a third to 104. The number of people positively diagnosed hit 2,626, up from 1,950 yesterday. A total of 56,221 people now have been tested.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that 219,00 cases have been detected globally, with more than 8,000 dead.  

Representatives from US firm ThermoFisher were seen entering Downing Street last night carrying a box with a testing kit. It is understood they were giving a demonstration of how the four-hour test, which has been approved in the US, works.

Roche, Boots, and Amazon were also at the meeting with Mr Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock in No10, as well as Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance. 

At PMQs in the Commons, Mr Johnson insisted that the UK was already carrying out more tests that other ‘comparable’ countries.   

‘This country is actually far ahead of many other comparable countries. We are increasing our tests from 5,000 to 10,000 a day,’ he said.

He added later: ‘We are moving up to 25,000 a day.’ 

However, Jeremy Corbyn demanded an increase on an ‘industrial scale’ – pointing to the advice from WHO, which has been highly critical of the move to tell people with symptoms to isolate at home, without being diagnosed.

On another rollercoaster day as Britain is gripped by the coronavirus crisis:

  • The government has announced a shutdown of schools from Friday afternoon, despite Mr Johnson insisting last week that there was no scientific reason for them to be closed. Scotland and Wales have already declared closures today, falling in line with similar action across much of Europe;
  • Nurseries and private schools will be asked to follow suit, with the shutdown lasting ‘until further notice’. Exams will not take place in May and June; 
  • A Welsh minister has warned that mass burials might be needed if the worst case scenario for the disease comes to pass; 
  • Businesses have demanded Chancellor Rishi Sunak goes further than the £350billion bailout he announced last night, with calls for VAT to be axed, national insurance to be cancelled, and workers’ wage bills to be footed by the state;
  • The government has been accused of failing to act to help renters and the self-employed in the emergency package;
  • Economists have warned that the UK economy could shrink by a fifth and a million people could lose their jobs as the ‘social distancing’ measures take effect; 
  • The Pound has fallen to its lowest level against the US dollar since 1985, in what appears to be a damning verdict on the government’s response; 
Two men wearing suits were pictured carrying a box from ThermoFisher ¿ which makes coronavirus tests that give results in four hours ¿ outside Downing Street last night

Two men wearing suits were pictured carrying a box from ThermoFisher ¿ which makes coronavirus tests that give results in four hours ¿ outside Downing Street last night

Two men wearing suits were pictured carrying a box from ThermoFisher – which makes coronavirus tests that give results in four hours – outside Downing Street last night

WHAT TEST IS THE UK CURRENTLY USING TO SWAB PATIENTS FOR CORONAVIRUS? 

Public Health England has not revealed which tests it is using to swab thousands of patients for the killer coronavirus.

But in a blog on its website, it suggests it just uses one – which takes a sample from a suspected patient’s nose and throat.

It says PHE’s diagnostic test was rolled out to 12 laboratories across the UK, who all increased their working output to analyse samples for 12 hours every day of the week. But patients are left in limbo for between 24 and 72 hours waiting for their test results to come back.

But health officials revealed last week that NHS hospital laboratories would soon start testing people to ease the strain on PHE, allowing them to conduct tests on-site without having to send samples away.

The Government yesterday ordered thousands of testing kits from the French-based firm Novacyt, in a deal worth £3.7million. 

But it is understood they are for hospital use only – even though NHS staff across the UK have already warned that facilities are swamped.

The company was an early mover in developing a test and is now supplying more than 60 countries. MailOnline has asked PHE to clarify which tests it uses.  

Last week US health bosses granted the emergency use of two tests in a desperate attempt to keep track of America’s escalating crisis. 

One of the diagnostic tools was made by Massachusetts-based firm Thermo Fisher Scientific. It can give results in four hours. 

Two men wearing suits were pictured carrying a box from ThermoFisher outside Downing Street yesterday. 

It is undersood they were going in to demonstrate the kit at a meeting.

The government has come under heavy fire over the speed with which the testing regime has been bolstered. 

The number of checks per day is not expected to hit 10,000 until next week. 

But ministers believe that a radical expansion could soon see the total number exceed that in China, which has carried out more than 220,000 altogether.

Mr Hancock said: ‘Public safety is my top priority, and radically ramping up testing for coronavirus is a key part of our plan to protect lives. We are already among the best in the world for coronavirus testing and today we are launching a national effort to increase our testing capability even further.

‘Our aim is to protect life, protect the most vulnerable, and relieve pressure on our NHS – so it is right that we prioritise testing for those most at risk of severe illness. We will always do the right thing at the right time, based on the best scientific advice, and will do whatever it takes to protect life.’

At a press conference in Downing Street today, Mr Johnson did not deny the government is preparing new restrictions for the capital after the death toll across the country spiked to 104 – up by 33 in a single day.  

London is believed to be ‘ahead of the curve’ for the rest of the UK. Concerns about the spread in the city and in the South East have been steadily mounting as the disease takes hold. 

Other major cities such as Paris and Brussels have already imposed similar lockdowns – with public transport operating a skeleton service and shops only open for essential supplies.

Asked about the prospect at a Downing Street press conference this evening, the PM said: ‘We keep everything under review and we will not hesitate to bring forward further and faster measures.’ 

Mr Johnson said: ‘I want to thank the whole country for the efforts they ar e making to comply with these measures.’ 

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who was at a Cobra emergency committee meeting this afternoon, suggested earlier that she was expecting more ‘stringent’ measures for the capital soon.  

In another extraordinary move reminiscent of wartime, the PM also confirmed that all schools will be closed down from Friday afternoon, with nurseries and private schools urged to follow suit. Some vulnerable children and offspring of key workers will still be able to attend pared back classes.

The step marks a dramatic shift after Mr Johnson desperately tried to avoid closures for days, despite many other European countries taking action. Scientists say that the shutdown will have only limited effect on the spread, and millions of parents will be scrambling to find childcare while they do their jobs – a problem exacerbated as grandparents might be off limits due to ‘social distancing’. 

Ms Sturgeon has declared that all schools north of the border will close for an early Easter break by Friday at the latest.

The Welsh authorities have said they are doing the same, amid claims up to 20 per cent of teachers are already in self-isolation.

Mr Johnson has already been forced to follow the example of other nations by effectively barring large public gatherings this week, despite resisting for a number of days. 

The change of stance over ‘social distancing’ on Monday followed modelling by a team of government advisers at Imperial College London warned that what was previously thought to be the ‘worst case’ scenario of 250,000 days was actually the most likely outcome.

Ministers hope that the new approach can limit coronavirus deaths to around 20,000. The current toll stands at 71.  

The Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance admitted yesterday that the tests must be ‘ramped up’. 

‘That clearly is not going to be enough going forward,’ he told MPs.

‘We really do need to get our testing in the right place to ensure we can monitor this effectively…

‘There is a very big effort going on to try to ramp that up.’

It is not clear the extent to which the number of tests is an issue, or whether the issue is the capacity of Public Health England (PHE) to carry them out.  

The Government has been at pains to say that it is testing more people than the majority of other states with coronavirus. But it is still far below the number being tested by nations like South Korea

Last night men carrying a box from ThermoFisher – which makes coronavirus tests that give results in four hours – were pictured in Downing Street.   

PM hints at lockdown to come in London 

Boris Johnson today hinted that London faces a tighter lockdown amid fears it is at the heart of the UK’s coronavirus outbreak.

The PM did not deny the government is preparing new restrictions for the capital after the death toll across the country spiked to 104 – up by 33 in a single day.  

London is believed to be ‘ahead of the curve’ for the rest of the UK. Concerns about the spread in the city and in the South East have been steadily mounting as the disease takes hold. 

Other major cities such as Paris and Brussels have already imposed similar lockdowns – with public transport operating a skeleton service and shops only open for essential supplies.

Asked about the prospect at a Downing Street press conference this evening, the PM said: ‘We keep everything under review and we will not hesitate to bring forward further and faster measures.’ 

Mr Johnson said: ‘I want to thank the whole country for the efforts they ar e making to comply with these measures.’ 

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who was at a Cobra emergency committee meeting this afternoon, suggested earlier that she was expecting more ‘stringent’ measures for the capital soon.  

Celebrities and big businesses have begun paying out for a £375-a-time home-testing kit being sold by a private clinic, according to the Telegraph.

PrivateHarleyStreetClinic.com says it can get a test to your home within 48 hours, boasting:  At present, the NHS is only offering testing for coronavirus to hospitalised patients. 

‘We have been inundated with requests to provide a private test. 

‘We can now confirm we are able to offer paid tests, via a postal courier service on a maximum 3 day turnaround service to private individuals and organisations.

‘Most importantly, this is the only test in the world that can identify the lethal Covid-19 virus and differentiate between 9 other non lethal viruses with the same symptoms.’ 

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said: ‘Our NHS staff are battling to protect us, government must protect them: From goggles, gowns, gloves, masks and thermometers we need adequate PPE for all staff across secondary & primary care. 

‘Testing must be scaled up urgently for staff.’ 

Mr Ashworth added: ‘This is a national effort and all of us must pull together. 

‘We have to urgently ramp up testing especially for our NHS staff. 

‘If this Harley Street clinic has testing capacity then government needs to get hold of it for NHS staff.’

At PMQs, Mr Corbyn said: ‘The World Health Organisation said test, test, test and we should be testing, I believe, on an industrial scale.’

He said 10,000 tests per day is ‘nowhere near even the number of people working in the NHS and the care sector’ and demanded a ‘greater sense of urgency’.

Mr Johnson replied: ‘Well in point of fact, we are prioritising testing of NHS staff for the obvious reason that we want them to be able to look after everybody else with confidence that they’re not transmitting the disease and this country is actually far ahead of many other comparable countries in testing huge numbers of people.’

Mr Johnson rejected the criticism, and stressed the importance of a separate test for whether people have previously been infected with coronavirus.

‘We are getting much closer to having a generally available test which will determine whether or not you have had the disease and that will truly be of huge benefit to this country in tackling the outbreak,’ he said.

Labour MP Rosena Allin-Khan, an A&E doctor, demanded to know why ‘mass testing’ was taking so long.

‘We are in unprecedented times. I would like to know where was the forward-planning for PPE for our NHS and care staff? Where is the testing for medics? Why are we waiting so long for mass testing? And why are social distancing measures merely just suggestions?’ she said.

Mr Johnson thanked the Tooting MP for her work in the health service, adding: ‘We have stockpiles of PPE equipment and we’re proceeding in accordance with the best scientific advice.

‘It is the timeliness of those measures that is absolutely vital in combating the spread of the epidemic. That is how you save lives.’

Around 86 per cent of coronavirus patients go undetected because their symptoms are so mild, a study warned last night. 

Scientists at Columbia University in New York analysed the spread of the infection in China, before the outbreak spiralled out of control. 

The researchers found the thousands of undocumented infections drove the spread of the crisis, which saw most of China locked down. 

Italian authorities have managed to contain the killer coronavirus outbreak in a small town near Venice through a rigorous testing strategy.

Health bosses in Vò – 45miles (72km) east of the tourist hotspot – have had no new cases for 48 hours.

PrivateHarleyStreetClinic.com says it can get a test to your home within 48 hours, in exchange for £375

PrivateHarleyStreetClinic.com says it can get a test to your home within 48 hours, in exchange for £375

PrivateHarleyStreetClinic.com says it can get a test to your home within 48 hours, in exchange for £375

WHO warns lack of tests means fighting disease ‘blindolded’ 

Earlier this week the World Health Organisation criticised countries that have given up on routinely testing all suspected coronavirus patients.

The UN agency’s director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom, warned the pandemic won’t be stopped if officials don’t know who is infected.

In a startling warning to the UK – which only tests patients in hospital and through routine surveillance by GPs, he added: ‘You cannot fight a fire blindfolded.’  

Almost 175,000 cases of the coronavirus have been identified worldwide, with 6,500 deaths recorded on every continent except Antarctica. 

Officials conducted an experiment in the town, which is home to 3,300 people, to test and re-test all inhabitants.

The Financial Times reports the strategy meant everyone would be tested – even if they showed no symptoms.

Andrea Crisanti, an infectious disease specialist taking part in the experiment, told the newspaper the method allowed officials to get the clearest picture about the size of the outbreak.

The experiment began at the end of February, and the initial roll-out of tests showed around three per cent of patients were infected.

This dropped ten-fold when the second testing round was carried out 10 days later, after quarantining all of the infected and their contacts.

Professor Crisanti, who is on a sabbatical at the University of Padua, said: ‘In the UK, there are a whole lot of infections that are completely ignored.

‘We were able to contain the outbreak [in Vò] because we identified and eliminated the ‘submerged’ infections and isolated them. This is what makes the difference.

It comes after Sir Patrick suggested around 70,000 Britons – or roughly one in every 1,000 out of the 68million population – could unknowingly be infected with the virus.

He claimed for every death in Britain – 71 have been announced so far – there is likely to be 1,000 positive cases. 

Addressing MPs yesterday he said the UK needed ‘a big increase in testing’ because 4,000 a day was ‘clearly not going to be enough’. 

‘We simply don’t have the mass testing available for the population now,’ he told the Health Select Committee.

‘There is a big effort going on to get that in place as quickly as possible.’  

In stinging criticism, a frontline NHS doctor who worked for the government in West Africa during the Ebola crisis has warned lessons learned there are being ‘completely ignored’.

The anonymous doctor is currently in self-isolation for seven to 14 days because they have displayed symptoms of the virus but cannot be tested – as current Government policy states only the most serious cases are being followed up.

They told the PA news agency they did not understand the lack of testing and described personal protective equipment (PPE) provided to healthcare workers as ‘inappropriate’.

They added that the stream of information provided by the Government is good, but can be contradictory and ‘confusing to the public’.

‘As a doctor I’m unwell quite often – hundreds and hundreds of us are being taken out of action until our symptoms pass,’ they said.

‘I’m unsure why the Government is not testing us. It goes against their own information and logic, which is what they were doing in West Africa which was test, test, test.

‘After the crisis in West Africa there was comprehensive after-action reports on what to do… they’re now deciding to go against all that advice and they’re acting incredibly slowly compared to other nations.

‘It seems like all the lessons learnt from that are being completely ignored higher up.’

Labour's shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said that healthcare staff 'battling to protect us' from the panic were being exposed by a shortage of testing kits and a lack of protective equipment'

Labour's shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said that healthcare staff 'battling to protect us' from the panic were being exposed by a shortage of testing kits and a lack of protective equipment'

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said that healthcare staff ‘battling to protect us’ from the panic were being exposed by a shortage of testing kits and a lack of protective equipment’

Revealed: The coronavirus tests being used around the world that can diagnose patients in minutes 

Pressure is mounting on the UK Government to upgrade its coronavirus testing as other countries switch to diagnostic kits that take just minutes to produce results.  

Boris Johnson today announced testing will be ramped up to 25,000 a day after coming under scathing criticism for letting thousands go undiagnosed. Only 5,000 people were being swabbed daily for COVID-19 previously. 

By comparison, South Korea has been testing 15,000 patients every day despite having a population of 50million compared to Britain’s 66million. 

But the Prime Minister admitted the NHS will continue to use nasal swab tests that take up to 48 hours to be analysed in a lab.  

Other countries around the world – including the US, China, South Korea, Japan and Italy – have been using testing kits that take minutes to produce results.

Although 2,626 cases have been confirmed in the UK, it is feared the UK’s testing regime means more than 70,000 have went undiagnosed.

Here, MailOnline looks at the cutting-edge testing kits currently being rolled out in other counties and at private clinics in Britain: 

BioMedomics claims its test can screen for coronavirus in 15 minutes using a small drop of blood and a tiny device that can be carried into the field

BioMedomics claims its test can screen for coronavirus in 15 minutes using a small drop of blood and a tiny device that can be carried into the field

BioMedomics claims its test can screen for coronavirus in 15 minutes using a small drop of blood and a tiny device that can be carried into the field

COVID-19 IgM IgG Rapid Test 

Manufacturers: BioMedomics

Diagnostic time: 15 minutes

How it works: Finger prick test 

The blood test is not being used in the UK, despite health bodies in China, Italy and Japan diagnosing patients with it.

On March 5, BioMedomics claimed its ‘quick and easy’ test was ready and being used in South Korea, Japan, Italy, China and some countries in the Middle East. 

After the sample of blood is collected, a technician injects it into the analysis device – which is about the size of an Apple TV or Roku remote – along with some buffer, and waits 15 minutes.

One line means negative, two lines in a spread-out configuration means the sample contains antibodies that the body starts making shortly after infection.

A blood sample is collected, inserted into the reader, a buffer is combined, and results come back within 15 minutes, the company claims

A blood sample is collected, inserted into the reader, a buffer is combined, and results come back within 15 minutes, the company claims

A blood sample is collected, inserted into the reader, a buffer is combined, and results come back within 15 minutes, the company claims 

Two lines closer together mean the person is positive for the later-stage antibodies, and three lines mean the patient is positive for both types of antibodies.  

A small study showed the test produced a correct response 80 per cent of the time.

PHE confirmed it was not using the advanced blood test because it was not accurate enough, and are hoping to develop their own. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also yet to approve it. 

A former PHE strategist said he was ‘not confident’ the test could produce correct results and is therefore unlikely to be rolled out. However, the method was desirable. 

Two men wearing suits were pictured carrying a box from ThermoFisher ¿ which makes coronavirus tests that give results in four hours ¿ outside Downing Street last night

Two men wearing suits were pictured carrying a box from ThermoFisher ¿ which makes coronavirus tests that give results in four hours ¿ outside Downing Street last night

Two men wearing suits were pictured carrying a box from ThermoFisher – which makes coronavirus tests that give results in four hours – outside Downing Street last night

TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Kit

Manufacturers: ThermoFisher

Diagnostic time: Four hours 

How it works: Nasal swab 

The DIY test detects specific DNA given off by the coronavirus in the noses of infected patients.

Samples are then delivered to labs where they are analysed and results are produced within four hours.

The test was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration this week and 5million kits will be sent across America in the coming days.

It is hoped the UK will follow suit after representatives from ThermoFisher, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, were seen entering Downing Street last night carrying a box with the tests. 

It is understood ministers were giving a demonstration of how the test works.

COVID-19 Rapid Test Cassette 

Manufacturers: SureScreen Diagnostics

SureScreen Diagnostics says a prick of blood from the fingertip is sufficient to determine with more than 98 per cent accuracy

SureScreen Diagnostics says a prick of blood from the fingertip is sufficient to determine with more than 98 per cent accuracy

SureScreen Diagnostics says a prick of blood from the fingertip is sufficient to determine with more than 98 per cent accuracy

Diagnostic time: Ten minutes

How it works: Finger prick test 

The private firm, based in Derby, has created a test which can allegedly determine with 98 per cent certainty if a person is infected. 

It involves taking a blood sample via finger prick and then putting it into a screening device.

Public Health England cautions members of the public against using such tests amid fears they are unreliable, saying there is 'little information on the accuracy of the tests'

Public Health England cautions members of the public against using such tests amid fears they are unreliable, saying there is 'little information on the accuracy of the tests'

Public Health England cautions members of the public against using such tests amid fears they are unreliable, saying there is ‘little information on the accuracy of the tests’

Results are displayed in a similar fashion to those of an at-home pregnancy test within minutes and could potentially save delays in diagnosis. 

SureScreen says its test has been validated and is already being used by private buyers in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands, Turkey, UAE, Kuwait and Oman. 

It is believed around 175,000 tests have been conducted with the SureScreen kit so far. The company claims it has had over two million orders for next month. 

Director David Campbell said: ‘We’ve been working hard to produce a coronavirus test (COVID19) that can be used at the patient side, with capillary blood, easily taken from someone’s fingertip and diagnose them within 10 minutes.

‘There is a big problem with the diagnosis of the disease currently because the standard method of screening is to send samples to the laboratory, which takes a lot of time. 

‘Meanwhile, someone could be spreading the virus without knowing, or having the issue of self-isolation.’  

Face mask tests 

Manufacturers: University of Leicester

Diagnostic time: 12 hours

How it works: Breath test inserted in a mask

Scientists have started a trial of the pioneering £2 gadget, which tests have already proven can detect tuberculosis, a deadly lung infection.

Scientists have started a trial of the pioneering £2 gadget (pictured), which tests have already proven can detect tuberculosis

Scientists have started a trial of the pioneering £2 gadget (pictured), which tests have already proven can detect tuberculosis

Scientists have started a trial of the pioneering £2 gadget (pictured), which tests have already proven can detect tuberculosis

The researchers at the University of Leicester and the University of Pretoria designed 3D printed strips of polyvinyl alcohol that are inserted into the mask (pictured)

The researchers at the University of Leicester and the University of Pretoria designed 3D printed strips of polyvinyl alcohol that are inserted into the mask (pictured)

The researchers at the University of Leicester and the University of Pretoria designed 3D printed strips of polyvinyl alcohol that are inserted into the mask (pictured)

The masks, which could cost pennies if manufactured on a wider scale, are fitted with strips that soak up droplets from the wearer’s breath, which may be carrying traces of bacterial or viral infection.

The strips can be tested in labs with results coming back within hours. Current tests for coronavirus can take up to 48 hours. 

University of Leicester researchers believe it will be at least two months before they can test the masks on actual COVID-19 patients.

But they are hopeful it will work because it is a respiratory disease, meaning it infects the lungs and can is present in the air people breathe out.  

After 30 minutes, the strips can be tested in a laboratory (pictured)

After 30 minutes, the strips can be tested in a laboratory (pictured)

After 30 minutes, the strips can be tested in a laboratory (pictured)

First, the team have to test the gadgets on dozens of patients with other lung infections to prove they can pick up bugs other than tuberculosis, which they were designed for.

Patients with infections such as flu and bronchitis will have the results from their mask tests compared to those from throat swabs, which are known to be accurate. 

Tests on tuberculosis patients, the only ones that have been done so far, show the masks can detect the killer disease almost 90 per cent of the time.

Leicester’s Professor Mike Barer and colleagues are hopeful they will be successful because the coronavirus infects the lungs in a similar way to tuberculosis.

COVID-19 Breath Test

Manufacturers: Northumbria University, Newcastle

Diagnostic time: Almost instantly

How it works: Breath test 

A breath test that helps rapidly identify patients with coronavirus has been developed by British scientists.

The technology, developed by a team at Northumbria University in Newcastle, is still in development and needs further testing.

But experts believe it could be quickly change the way the virus is spotted around the world. 

The Northumbria team’s test collects breath samples which can be tested separately for biological information – known as biomarkers.

These biomarkers, which include DNA, RNA, proteins and fat molecules, can spot diseases of the lung and other parts of the body.

People simply breath into the device, which is similar to a breathalyser used by the police.

Dr Sterghios Moschos, associate professor at Northumbria University, said: ‘Our ambition is to reduce the need for bloodletting for diagnosis in its broadest sense.’ 

The test is currently being trialled.  

PRIVATE HARLEY STREET CLINIC COVID-19 TEST

Manufacturers: Private Harley Street Clinic

Diagnostic time: Three days

On its website, the item can be easily 'added to cart,' much in the same way as conventional online products

On its website, the item can be easily 'added to cart,' much in the same way as conventional online products

On its website, the item can be easily ‘added to cart,’ much in the same way as conventional online products

How it works: Nose and throat swab

Price: £375  

More than 2,000 people have ordered a £375 home testing kit from a Harley Street clinic in London after being turned down by the NHS, according to the Daily Telegraph.

In addition to individuals, some 60 firms including oil and telecoms companies, have bought them for their staff. 

Dr Mark Ali, director of the Private Harley Street Clinic on London's world-renowned medical avenue, said his practice was offering a new kit for £375 each

Dr Mark Ali, director of the Private Harley Street Clinic on London's world-renowned medical avenue, said his practice was offering a new kit for £375 each

Dr Mark Ali, director of the Private Harley Street Clinic on London’s world-renowned medical avenue, said his practice was offering a new kit for £375 each

The test is posted to the client’s home or preferred address, where the client takes swabs from both the nostrils and throat. 

The sample is then placed in the box provided and posted back as per the instructions. 

Dr Mark Ali, director of the Private Harley Street Clinic on London’s world-renowned medical avenue, said his practice was offering a new kit for £375 each.

On its website, the item can be easily ‘added to cart,’ much in the same way as conventional online products.

The practice says the test is ‘performed by a world renown UKAS accredited British laboratory and the test results are 100% accurate and do not require further tests to confirm any diagnoses.’

The website hastens to add, that though it oversees the entire process, patients should not attempt to pick up their kits from Harley Street.

‘Please note under no circumstances can this test be done in our clinic or be collected from our clinic.’ The website states.

‘It is sent to your designated address by courier service within 48 hrs. Please refer to the details below and order through the link at the bottom of this page.’

Dr Ali told The Telegraph he has received countless requests from buyers.

‘People are worried sick. They want to get some clarity back in their lives,’ he told The Telegraph. 

‘We’ve got university students in England who want to go back to Nepal, but need to know if they have the disease so they can be let back into their own country.

‘We’ve got a businessman who owns a construction company employing 60 people. He needs to know the state of play, or he risks letting down his customers. So every single person in that company is being tested.’ 

CT Scans 

Who came up with the idea? Mount Sinai Health System, New York

Diagnostic time: 1 hour 30 minutes

How it works: Detects lung damage  

Doctors from The Mount Sinai Health System in New York say CT scans may be faster than nasal and throat swabs at diagnosing coronavirus patients. 

The team were the first in the US to analyze lung scans of patients in China with the highly contagious disease.   

They said they were able to identify specific patterns in the lungs as markers of the virus, also known as COVID-19, as it developed over the course of about two weeks>

Patients who received scans zero to two days after symptoms first appeared had little to no evidence of lung disease in their results like this 19-year-old male who had a CT scan one day after symptoms first appeared

Patients who received scans zero to two days after symptoms first appeared had little to no evidence of lung disease in their results like this 19-year-old male who had a CT scan one day after symptoms first appeared

Patients who received scans zero to two days after symptoms first appeared had little to no evidence of lung disease in their results like this 19-year-old male who had a CT scan one day after symptoms first appeared

The team said the pattern in the lung of coronavirus patients are similar to scans of patients with SARS and very different from diseases such as bacterial pneumonia (pictured)

The team said the pattern in the lung of coronavirus patients are similar to scans of patients with SARS and very different from diseases such as bacterial pneumonia (pictured)

The team said the pattern in the lung of coronavirus patients are similar to scans of patients with SARS and very different from diseases such as bacterial pneumonia (pictured)

The researchers say these quicker diagnoses could help keep patients isolated in early stages of the disease, perhaps even before symptoms appear and when it may not show up on other scans such as chest X-rays. 

‘CT scans are an extremely powerful diagnostic tool, because you can seen the inner organs in a three-dimensional way,’ lead author Dr Adam Bernheim, an assistant professor of diagnostic, molecular and interventional radiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told DailyMail.com.

‘And you can see the manifestation of many diseases.’ 

For the study, published in the journal Radiology, the team analyzed scans of 94 patients at four medical centers in four Chinese provinces.

The patients had been admitted between January 18 and February 2, and all had either recently traveled to Wuhan – the epicenter of an outbreak – or had come into contact with an infected person.

Radiologists reviewed the scan and took notes based on when symptoms first appeared and when the CT scan was performed.

Thirty-six patients received scans zero to two days after reporting symptoms and more than half showed no evidence of lung disease.

The team says this is important because it suggests that CT scans cannot reliably detect coronavirus in its very earliest stages.

Nasal and throat swabs test can identify patients even before patients become symptomatic, although some may still have the virus if they first test negative. 

Its results, however, may take days to get back from the agency’s labs.

But 33 patients who received scans three to five days after symptoms developed had patterns of ‘ground glass opacities,’ or haziness in the lungs’The lung abnormalities are very round in shape and affect the perimeter of the lung,’ co-author Dr Michael Chung, an assistant professor of diagnostic, molecular and interventional radiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told DailyMail.com.  

WHAT ARE OTHER COUNTRIES DOING? 

South Korea

South Korea has the capacity to test around 20,000 people each day – more than any other country in the world. 

Officials gave permission to four companies to make kits, with the country desperate to stop the killer virus spreading. It also uses drive-through testing centres.

Figures show the country has now tested up to 300,000 residents, at a rate of 5,000 per 1million inhabitants, according to reports.

In contrast, the rate in Britain is around seven times lower – at just 700 per 1million, MailOnline can reveal. 

South Korea’s outbreak – which has seen almost 8,500 cases and fewer than 100 deaths – has curtailed in the past week.

Fewer than 100 patients are being diagnosed each day, which leading scientists say is because of the country’s rigorous testing programme.

Kim Woo-Joo, an infectious disease specialist based at Korea University, told Science magazine: ‘Lab testing is essential to control an emerging infectious disease.’

China

The coronavirus crisis began in China at the end of December, and saw hundreds of millions of people locked down in a desperate attempt to contain the crisis.

But World Health Organization experts said it was Beijing’s decision to test all suspected cases and then isolate their contacts was more important than the country-wide quarantines.

The UN agency’s assistant director general Bruce Aylward told New Scientist testing ‘stopped transmission in China, not the big travel restrictions and lockdowns’.

More than 80,000 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in China and at least 3,000 patients died of the infection. 

Italy

Italy is at the centre of Europe’s ever-growing coronavirus outbreak, with more than 31,000 confirmed cases and at least 2,500 deaths. 

At the beginning of the spiralling crisis at the end of February, health officials tried to test every suspected case.  

Virologists praised the approach, saying the strategy of ‘over-testing’ was ‘right and sensible’. Around 130,000 people have already been tested in Italy.

Authorities have already managed to completely halt the outbreak in one small town near Venice because of the rigorous approach. 

The Financial Times reports that Vò – 45miles (72km) east of the tourist hotspot, has had no new cases for 48 hours. 

And the outbreak in Lombardy, the northern Italian region that has suffered the most from the deadly infection, is slowing down, officials say.

The US

At the other end of the scale, the US has repeatedly been criticised for not testing enough people – with around 50,000 tests carried out so far. 

Some states, such as Alabama and Delaware, have swabbed fewer than 100 people, according to an independent tracker.

President Donald Trump has declared a national state of emergency and announced additional measures to expand testing.

Now, all US states can make, validate and use their own tests rather than wait for the approval of the FDA – the US regulatory body.

Health and state officials have widely blamed the testing shortage for the steep rise in US cases.

They say it both delayed public knowledge of just how many cases there were and allowed the disease to continue to spread from unwitting carriers.

 

link

(Visited 6 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply