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Nicola Sturgeon (left) wears a tartan mask en route to the Holyrood Parliament. A student (right) at Glasgow University scooters down a deserted campus pavement.

Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE: Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Last updated: Tuesday, 29 September, 2020, 09:44

  • 806 new cases of Covid-19 reported in Scotland - highest ever number
  • No new deaths in Scotland, FM confirms
  • Scottish economy faces “biggest reduction in output in modern times”
  • Global deaths from the virus surpass 1,000,000

World Health Organisation’s new antigen test

A new form of Covid-19 test which can produce results in just 15-30 minutes is set to be rolled out across the globe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced.

New rapid antigen test: How does this new test work?

The antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests work by detecting proteins found on the surface of the virus.

The tests, which look similar to pregnancy tests and can yield results within 30 minutes, simply display two blue lines for a positive result.

The WHO last week approved the tests for emergency use.

New rapid antigen tests: How do they differ from other tests?

The main difference between rapid-antigen tests and nasal/throat swabs and finger-prick blood tests is the antigen tests do not require laboratory processing to produce results.

This means they are able to detect coronavirus infection within minutes, compared to the hours or days necessary for the genetic tests, known as PCR tests, to turnaround results.

They are also far cheaper, with each test costing just 5 US dollars (£3.90) each.

However they are generally considered less accurate than laboratory-based tests.

New rapid antigen tests

The main difference between rapid-antigen tests and nasal/throat swabs and finger-prick blood tests (pictured here) is the antigen tests do not require laboratory processing to produce results.

New rapid antigen tests: How important are they?

The rapid antigen tests will be vital in improving the testing capacity of lower and middle-income countries who lack enough laboratory resources or trained health workers to properly carry out PCR tests.

They will also allow health care workers to get a better grip on where the virus is circulating in poorer countries, in hopes of following up with containment and other measures to stop it.

Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund, a partnership that works to end epidemics, said the tests represent a “significant step” in the effort to combat and contain the virus on a global scale.

He said: “They’re not a silver bullet, but hugely valuable as a complement to PCR tests.”

New rapid antigen tests: Matt Hancock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock previously said mass testing was the nation’s “best chance” of reducing social distancing measures without having a vaccine.

Bernard Matthews: Turkey plant workers self-isolate

Eighteen workers at a Bernard Matthews turkey plant have tested positive for coronavirus and are self-isolating.

Food production at the processing facility in Holton, near Halesworth in Suffolk, has not been affected by the outbreak.

Around 100 staff have been tested for Covid-19 with most returning negative results and additional testing is taking place this week.

The site has had controls in place since March to reduce coronavirus infections, including regular temperature checks, staff working in bubbles, Covid marshals, masks and visors and social distancing throughout the site.

The majority of the 18 workers who tested positive live in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas and the cases are believed to have initiated in the community, the company said.

Officials including from Suffolk County Council, Public Health England and Bernard Matthews are working together to manage the situation.

New rapid antigen tests: When will the tests be rolled out?

The WHO and its leading partners have agreed to deploy 120 million rapid-diagnostic tests as early as next month.

Catharina Boehme, chief executive of a non-profit group called the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, said the initial rollout would take place across 20 countries in Africa.

New rapid antigen tests: What do the new tests mean for the UK?

While poorer countries will primarily benefit from the rapid-antigen tests, wealthier countries who have signed up to the Access to Covid tools initiative, which the UK has, will also be given access to them.

They represent a potential boon to the Government’s Operation Moonshot scheme for mass testing, though it is not clear if they intend to buy these tests.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock previously said mass testing was the nation’s “best chance” of reducing social distancing measures without having a vaccine.

New rapid antigen tests: What have other people said about antigen tests?

Former prime minister Tony Blair has called on the Government to adopt the rapid antigen tests, saying they could enable an extra 300,000 coronavirus tests to be carried out every day within a few weeks.

However Baroness Dido Harding, the head of NHS Test and Trace, warned companies and individuals could be forced to foot the bill for the swift turnaround tests as they were too unreliable for use within the health service.

But she said those without symptoms might choose to pay for the tests to act as a kind of Covid-19 passport to allow them to take part in non-socially distanced activities.

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