April 23, 2020 / 4:55 PM / a month ago

Testing programme can open way to lesser coronavirus measures - Hancock

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks during a daily news conference on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain April 23, 2020. Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Handout via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - A mass testing and tracking programme to keep transmission rates of the new coronavirus low in Britain can open the way to having less strict social distancing rules, health minister Matt Hancock said on Thursday.

Britain is working on launching a programme to test, track and trace any new coronavirus cases in the country, as part of measures to try to keep transmission of the virus low and ease strict measures that have all but shut down the country.

“Test, track and trace, done effectively, can help to suppress the transmission in a way that allows you then to have lesser social distancing rules,” Hancock told a news conference.

“Test, track and trace works more effectively when the rate of new cases is lower, so the lower the rate of new cases, the more effectively you can keep it down using test, track and trace rather than having to use heavier social distancing measures.”

Reporting by David Milliken and Estelle Shirbon, writing by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Stephen Addison

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