"Testing, testing 1,2,3". In the Before Time these were the words of someone sheepishly checking a microphone. Now they are a valid strategy for fighting a global pandemic. What an odd period of our lives this is.
To escape it, there is broad agreement that increasing testing is key. So it is heartening to learn it will soon be possible for UK residents to take a test which gives a result within 15 minutes. You won’t even have to leave your home (let’s overlook the fact you’re not allowed), they can be delivered to your door.
The tests do not confirm whether you’re currently a corona-carrier, instead they will look for the antibodies which suggest you’ve already had the virus and developed some immunity. They will, though, require a finger prick, so you’ll have to be brave. See how they work below.
There’s an order in for 3.5m already, with millions more expected soon. Is Matt Hancock stockpiling? Perhaps we’ll let him off on this occasion.
This is especially good news for doctors, nurses and other frontline key workers whose potential exposure to the virus is far higher than yours and mine, even if you’ve spent the last fortnight eating only deliveries for dinner, or as it’s now known: generously supporting local businesses.
Some varying reports about when all this will be possible, some saying days others saying weeks. But in the context of worse-case scenarios of 18 months of lockdown and a very real possibility we’ll all complete Netflix before summer, this has to be a boost.
Returning to the scene of yesterday’s optimism, Sarah Knapton reports that a new symptom-monitoring app suggests 6.5m of the UK population, nearly one in ten, are already infected with Covid-19. As it was yesterday: a frightening thing to read.
But looking on the bright side, as we are obliged to on this specific page of the Telegraph’s website, that puts a new spin on the current death rate. The current number of “known” UK cases is more like 10,000, which makes the awful number of confirmed deaths even more stark. That number becomes a little easier to take if you entertain the possibility that the actual number of UK cases is far higher.
One more heartwarming tale from Northern Ireland, where O’Neills (it makes sportswear, not disappointing pubs) has reopened its factory to help make medical scrubs. Employees of the company in Strabane, County Tyrone had been temporarily laid off as demand for sports kits fell to zero, but 150 are now back at work, making these fetching maroon scrubs:
I'm running out of comfortable loungewear here, I’ll take 12. Here’s Harriet with her summary of the rest of the good news
On Tuesday evening the Government called on an “army of volunteers” to help deliver food and medication to the vulnerable, speak to isolated people on the phone and transport people to appointments. By Wednesday evening more than 500,000 had already signed up. More on how you can get involved here.
Football clubs are hoping to offer 100,000 free tickets to NHS workers as a ‘thank you’ for fighting coronavirus. Brighton and Hove Albion started the campaign and have invited clubs across the country to join them.
A group of coach drivers are re-training to become ambulance drivers to help with the Covid-19 effort. Twenty workers from Bakers Dolphin are undertaking training this week and will cover a fleet of 95 ambulances in four-day shifts.
NGOs and charities are finding new ways to support refugees and asylum seekers during the pandemic. The British Refugee Council has launched a fund so that its therapists can continue remote counselling and to help those who only have 28 days to find accommodation. Meanwhile Phoenix Community Care is raising money to buy a computer for young asylum seekers to study online.
Aldi has rewarded its staff in both stores and the warehouse a 10 per cent bonus for coping with crowds, following in the footsteps of Tesco which offered the same last week.
To support the creative community during the pandemic, Netflix has donated £1 million to BFI and the UK’s Film and TV Charity coronavirus fund. The fund aims to provide short-term relief to freelance workers.
Imperial College London reports that Wuhan’s lockdown and tough social distancing measures have successfully ended locally transmitted coronavirus infections. “At this difficult time, these results suggest that, after containment, a carefully managed and monitored relaxation of effective large-scale lockdowns may be possible even before an effective vaccine is available,” said Prof Christl Donnelly.
A generous benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous is treating the 171 villagers of Denchworth, Oxon, to fish and chips every Friday for the next three months to boost morale. He's subsidising the local pub, The Fox, by paying the landlord to cook the meals.
By Harriet Barber
Three pleasant things to put into your head
Southampton neighbours sing Happy Birthday to a young girl in isolation
Reader Adrian Wright sent in this pleasing photo of a visiting blue tit enjoying his hospitality in his Dorset garden.