Tests for coronavirus and flu that can provide results in 90 minutes are to be rolled out across hospitals, care homes and laboratories from next week.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the breakthrough as “life-saving” and said the tests will help prevent the spread of Covid-19 this winter.
The Department of Health said that the “rapid” swab and DNA tests will help clinicians and NHS Test and Trace staff distinguish between coronavirus and other seasonal illnesses.
This could prevent patients from unnecessarily self-isolating for an illness that is not Covid-19.
Nearly half a million new LamPORE swab tests will be available from next week across adult care settings and laboratories. Millions more of the tests, supplied by Oxford Nanopore, are set to be rolled out later in the year.
Meanwhile, thousands of DNA test machines, which have already been used in eight London hospitals and can analyse nose swabs, will be rolled out across NHS hospitals from September.
“Millions of new rapid coronavirus tests will provide on-the-spot results in under 90 minutes, helping us to break chains of transmission quickly,” said Mr Hancock
“The fact these tests can detect flu as well as Covid-19 will be hugely beneficial as we head into winter, so patients can follow the right advice to protect themselves and others…”