New test will distinguish between coronavirus and seasonal flu under 90-minutes

A new ninety minute test can detect coronavirus and flu will hit hospitals and care homes in another week in the UK.

The “on-the-spot” swab and DNA tests will help distinguish between Covid-19 and other seasonal illnesses, the government said.

The health secretary said this would be “hugely beneficial” over the winter.

Currently, a third of tests take longer than 24 hours to process.

The government said almost half a million of the new rapid swab tests, called LamPORE, will be available from next week in adult care settings and laboratories, with millions more due to be rolled out later in the year.

Additionally, thousands of DNA test machines, which have already been used in eight London hospitals and can analyse nose swabs, will be rolled out across NHS hospitals from September.

Around 5,000 machines will provide 5.8 million tests in the coming months, the Department for Health said.

There is currently no publicly available data on the accuracy of the new tests.

But Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, who has been advising the government on tests, said they produced the same “sensitivity” as the current lab-based tests.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock described these latest innovations as a “big step forward” and said the government was on target to reach 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.

He said the new technologies could be used in settings like schools and across the community where “we want to test people who don’t have symptoms so we can find out where the virus is”.

Mr Hancock added: “The fact these tests can detect flu as well as Covid-19 will be hugely beneficial as we head into winter, so patients can follow the right advice to protect themselves and others.”