RAPID turnaround Covid-19 tests will be issued in the Wigan borough to increase the testing of priority and high-risk groups.

More than a half a million of these lateral flow tests will be sent out by NHS Test and Trace to public health leaders in England this week, signalling the next phase of the Government’s plan to expand asymptomatic testing.

This innovative technology – which is already being rolled out as part of whole-city testing in Liverpool – can provide results within an hour without needing to be processed in a lab.

More than 50 directors of public health will each receive a batch of 10,000 antigen lateral flow devices as part of a pilot to test priority groups in the community.

The initial batch will be followed up with a weekly allocation of the tests, equivalent to 10 per cent of the population.

Directors of public health will decide how to prioritise the allocation of these new tests, based on the needs of their communities.

They will be supported by NHS Test and Trace to expand testing programmes in their area through access to training and clinical and operational guidance.

Health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, said he had written to every director of public health in England on Monday, offering to make available the new lateral flow tests which have been used in the Liverpool mass testing pilot.

He said: “Mass testing is a vital tool to help us control this virus and get life more normal.

“I am delighted to say 10,000 of these tests will now be sent out by NHS Test and Trace to more than 50 directors of public health as part of our asymptomatic testing strategy.”

The rate of infection per 100,000 in the borough is among the highest in the country, with latest official figures showing it now stands at 577.2 (1897 new cases) over a seven-day period although is down from 683.7 the previous week (2247 cases)

The number of coronavirus deaths passed 400 at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Trust, the latest official figures show. NHS England figures show 409 people had died in hospital at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust as of 5pm on Monday (November 9) since the start of the outbreak in mid-March.

That was an increase of 24 compared to Sunday, when there were 385. It means there have been 51 deaths in the past week, up from 37 the previous week.