Time : 13:55: Nov-26, 20

Liverpool plans Britain's first mass testing initiative

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The city of Liverpool, one of the hotspots of novel coronavirus infection in the United Kingdom, will be the focus of England's first trial for regular mass testing, it has been revealed.

Whether or not they have symptoms, everyone working or living in the city will be offered a test with regular follow-ups, and it is hoped results could be available within an hour.

After a dip during the summer, across the UK the rate of infection and death is rising again, with Liverpool one of the most severely affected areas. In England as a whole, the average number of positive cases per 100,000 people is 153; in Liverpool, the figure at the end of October was 352.

Military personnel will help with the logistics of the exercise, which will see test sites set up in hubs such as schools and workplaces, with people able to book tests online.

Oxford University academic John Bell, who has advised the government about testing, told the BBC he was being deliberately cautious with his language, but hoped the impact could be significant.

"I hesitate to use the word game-changer because it gets overused, but it is a significant step forward in the testing arena," he said. "We believe that we can identify the majority of people who are likely to spread the virus and all the people who are likely to be super-spreaders or substantial spreaders."

Meanwhile, another Oxford academic, Carl Heneghan, from the university's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, says figures from Liverpool are proof that the government's three-tier system has had a significant impact on the spread of the virus.

Because of its high infection rate, Liverpool has already seen some of the country's tightest localized restrictions, and Heneghan said that as a result, the number of cases had been reduced and hospital admission rates had stabilized.

"Many of the measures are working as intended," he said. With members of Parliament due to vote on Wednesday about renewed lockdown measures, Heneghan told the Daily Telegraph that figures presented by the government's top advisors did not tell the full story.

"I'm deeply concerned about how the data is being presented so that politicians can make decisions," he said. "It is a fast-changing situation, which is very different in different regions, and it concerns me that MPs who are about to go to a vote are not getting the full picture."

Government reassurances about COVID-19 safety in the workplace are having little effect, it would seem, after a survey by the Resolution Foundation think tank revealed the extent of employee anxiety about catching the virus.

Although renewed lockdown could see many places of employment shut down, people in essential occupations such as food retail and health will continue to go to work.

The Foundation's research found that more than one-third of employees still have safety fears, with the youngest and most poorly-paid being those most concerned, but also being those least likely to speak up about the issue.

"Given many workers' limited ability to get employers to address COVID concerns, the UK needs a strong enforcement regime to ensure that workplaces are as safe as can be," said the Foundation's research director, Lindsay Judge.

"But instead health and safety resources have been cut, inspections have been slow, and COVID-related enforcement notices are few and far between."

A spokesperson for the government safety organisation the Health and Safety Executive, or HSE, said it would study the report's findings. "We welcome the acknowledgement of our increased activity and share the commitment to ensure all employees have a voice," they added.

According to the government, fourteen million pounds ($18.18 million) of funding was given to the HSE earlier this year, specifically for anti-coronavirus measures.

Meanwhile, in Europe there is increasingly angry dissatisfaction with the latest lockdown measures.

There have already been missiles thrown and teargas fired during disturbances in Italian cities including Bologna, Turin, Naples and Florence, and interior minister, Luciana Lamorgese, has said "violent fringe elements" including soccer hooligans and far-right extremists are trying to "exploit the social and economic discomfort of this difficult moment".

The government is considering further measures, possibly even a national curfew at 9pm, and although there is widespread support for what they are trying to achieve, growing numbers of small businesses are also expressing dissatisfaction with the way the situation is being handled.