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Testing everyone in Norwich for coronavirus could stop deaths, says MP

PUBLISHED: 17:24 14 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:24 14 May 2020

The Earlham Institute in Norwich could play a key role in testing for coronavirus, if the government gives the go-ahead. Picture: Anthony Cullen

The Earlham Institute in Norwich could play a key role in testing for coronavirus, if the government gives the go-ahead. Picture: Anthony Cullen

Anthony Cullen

An ambitious project which would see everyone in Norwich tested for coronavirus once a week deserves to be explored further, the city’s MPs have said.

Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP. Picture: Neil DidsburyChloe Smith, Norwich North MP. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Led by scientists at the Earlham Institute at Norwich Research Park, discussions have been held with hospitals, health bosses, the University of East Anglia and councils about the possibility of getting tests at home for everyone in the city.

Scientists are keen to carry out a trial, which could begin with just a few wards in the city and could grow to cover more of the population.

But such a scheme - with people testing themselves at home and then returning the swabs to be processed in laboratories at Norwich Research Park - would need funding and the go-ahead from the government.

The Department of Health and Social Care has said it “continually considers” options to extend testing, but has no immediate plans for citywide testing.

But the Norwich scientific community is committed to make the case, saying that, through universal testing and contact tracing, it would build up a comprehensive picture of how coronavirus spreads - information which could be used nationally to figure out responses to the virus.

Norwich. South MP Clive Lewis.
 Picture: Nick ButcherNorwich. South MP Clive Lewis. Picture: Nick Butcher

The city’s MPs have said the idea should be explored further.

Chloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North, said: “I’m always proud to see Norwich come to the fore, especially given our strengths in research and science.

“I would be interested to know people’s appetite around the city for it.

“I’m helping by discussing the idea with the researchers and the government to see if it might be productive.”

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said: “As an MP for the city, I’m inevitably going to be in favour of a proposal like this, which would reduce the risk to local people of becoming ill or even dying.

“I also know that the people of our city are incredibly civic minded and would jump at the opportunity to do everything they can to play their part in combating this terrible virus.

“I’m sure it’s the same in so many other towns and cities in our country, which is why it is such a travesty that the whole country has been so terribly let down by this government’s ineptitude and false promises on testing and tracing.”


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