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Jeremy Hunt demands ‘second test’ before coronavirus patients allowed back into society

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Jeremy Hunt suggested people who are self-isolating because of coronavirus symptoms should receive a second test at the end of the quarantine because of potential faults in tests. Mr Hunt suggested the extra testing capacity the Government has claimed to have could be used to ensure people isolating are healthy before they are allowed back into society. Speaking to ITV Peston, the former Health Secretary said: “I would have thought the obvious thing to do is, if someone has symptoms and then they do what the Government asks them to do, which is to get a test, and the test says you haven’t got it…

“At the moment the guidance says you’re clear, your contacts are clear, you don’t need to isolate anymore.

“But the figure I heard is actually 20 percent or 30 percent [getting a false negative].”

Mr Hunt continued: “The logic would be to do a second test. Say you’ve had two tests if you’ve got the symptoms before you’re told you don’t need to self-isolate.

“If we’ve got all this extra testing capacity that isn’t being used…”

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The suggestion came after research from the University of Bristol found as much as 20 percent of positive coronavirus cases could appear as false negative.

The skewed results would wrongly reassure someone with COVID-19 they are not infected and could have them pose a risk to the surrounding community.

At the moment, people with symptoms have been asked to isolate for 7 days while other members of the household have to self-isolate for 14 days.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care told the BBC: “The test is reliable and effective.

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“Like any diagnostic test, however, there is always the small possibility of a false negative or a false-positive result.”

The medical sector had previously put forward proposals for a two-test system to ensure the spread of the coronavirus is kept under control.

Dr Claudia Paoloni from the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) warned reliance on only one test would risk “infecting patients and staff.”

And University of Leeds virologist Prof Nicola Storehouse warned Britons had to be made aware one test is not “good enough.”

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As of Thursday, 4,786,219 tests have been carried out and 279,856 cases have been confirmed positive for coronavirus across the UK.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced earlier this week the Government had decided to extend the length of time between reviews of lockdown restrictions.

Mr Hancock said the maximum review period will change from every three weeks to every four weeks in a written ministerial statement on Tuesday.

The Health Secretary said: “To ensure that we are making future decisions about the lockdown at the right time, the maximum review period will change from 21 days to 28 days.

“This will allow decisions to align more closely with the period of time necessary to assess the impact of previous changes on key data feeds, including the R (infection) rate.

“The Government will also keep all the measures under continual review and will account to Parliament on an ongoing basis.”

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