NEW rapid tests that can detect coronavirus in just 90 minutes will start to be used in care homes and labs from next week.

The two new types of test do not require trained health staff to operate them and can also pick up other winter viruses.

Currently most results from tests carried out in-person are returned the following day, while home kits take longer.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "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."

The Argus:

Here, are some of the key questions surrounding coronavirus testing:

How many different types of Covid-19 tests are there?

There are currently two main tests used to detect coronavirus infection: nasal/throat swabs and finger-prick blood tests.

The swab test, which involves a deep swab of the nose or the back of the throat, is used to determine whether someone is currently infected with Covid-19.

The finger-prick blood test is used to identify the presence of Covid-19 antibodies which would signify prior infection.

What are some of the problems with the current testing methods?

The swab test in particular is very invasive and uncomfortable, while concerns linger over the accuracy and reliability of the antibody tests.


The current tests also take a substantial amount of time to be processed, with most people taking between 24 and 72 hours to receive their results.

What is different about the new tests?

The anticipation surrounding the newly-announced tests comes mainly from the speed with which they are able to detect not just Covid-19 but also other seasonal illnesses.

This will be crucial as the UK heads into winter, as the tests will be able to quickly and easily identify whether sufferers will need to self-isolate.

If successful, this will provide a significant boost to contact-tracing capabilities, enabling authorities to more-rapidly intervene and break potential chains of transmission.