BRADFORD has been allocated 10,000 “lateral flow” Covid-19 tests a week by the Government, although civic bosses have warned that this is not enough to introduce Liverpool-style mass testing.

The tests provide a result in minutes, and yesterday the Government announced that 600,000 of them would be sent out to local councils in the UK.

The leader of Bradford Council says that while the allocation will not be enough to regularly test the majority of the Bradford District’s 537,000 population – similar to how residents of Liverpool are being mass tested – it will allow more capacity to test certain areas.

This could include testing care home residents and staff, helping re-introduce visiting, and trying to prevent school outbreaks.

And the Council is “watching Liverpool to see what lessons can be learned” from its mass testing programme.

The Council says it is still waiting for more details from the government on the allocation.

It comes as Bradford became the area of the country with the fifth highest infection rate. The rate for the seven days to November 6 stood at 585.1 per 100,000 of the population, or 3,158 cases, in comparison to 522.8, or 2,822 cases, in the seven days to October 30.

Announcing the allocations on Tuesday, a government statement said: “Directors of public health will determine how to prioritise the allocation of these new tests, based on the specific needs of their communities, and will determine how people in the local area are tested.

“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.”

Bradford Council Leader Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe said: “We can confirm that the allocation of up to 10,000 lateral flow tests per week announced by the Secretary of State does include Bradford.

“We expressed interest on the same day we heard about the opportunity. However details from Government still need confirming as they made a sudden announcement before full details were available.

“Clearly 10,000 lateral flow tests a week will not enable us to test anything like the 537,000 population of the Bradford District so this is not mass testing on the scale of the Liverpool pilot.

“However, it will provide additional capacity to test more people and to test in specific situations, for example we’d like to look at how we might facilitate safe care home visiting and/or enable schools to quickly identify and isolate outbreaks.

“Our Director of Public Health will decide on priorities for the deployment of these additional tests in consultation with the Outbreak Control Board.

“Many people are wanting to know about the possibility of mass testing. Along with many other local authorities, we are in discussions with national government about the different options for mass testing.

“It is being piloted in Liverpool using lateral flow testing to see whether it is an effective approach to identifying levels of infection in a large population. The objective of this kind of test, as opposed to the ones we are used to through the national testing sites, is that it is easy and gives a result within 30 minutes.

“Anyone testing positive, whichever test they use, then knows to self-isolate, thereby preventing transmission of the virus. Liverpool was chosen as a national pilot for mass testing. It was the first place in the country to go into Tier 3. We are all watching Liverpool to see what lessons can be learned.

“We will do whatever we can to keep infection rates in the district down but there is no silver bullet and it needs each and everyone of us to play our part.

“What is essential if we are to beat this virus is for everyone who exhibits symptoms, tests positive or is shown to be asymptomatic, self-isolates immediately. The only point of having a test is to confirm to people that they should self-isolate if they have the virus. Research has been done to show that nationally only 18 per cent of people self-isolate for the full 10 days if they show symptoms. We have to change that.

“We await the learning from Liverpool but if it is a successful approach we believe government would wish to extend the mass testing programme as quickly as is practical into all areas of the country.”

The testing was discussed during an online Q&A featuring Council bosses and public health figures this afternoon.

When asked whether Bradford would get involved in mass testing, Sarah Muckle, head of Public Health in Bradford, said: “Mass testing means being able to test a lot of people. We’re already testing a lot of people in Bradford.

“We’re already testing 16,000 people a week.

“This is a different type of test that is much quicker than the ones we have now.

“This is good because it enables us to get the right advice to people quickly and make sure that if they are positive but don’t have symptoms they aren’t going about while infectious.”

Once again urging people to self-isolate, and raising concerns about the low compliance rate, Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “However many tests you do, if people don’t stay isolated if they test positive then it won’t make any difference.”