It also revealed a number of companies have agreed deals to reach three million tests per day by December. Firms named are GSK for supplying tests, AstraZeneca for lab capacity and Serco and G4s for logistics and warehousing. 

The approach – to be piloted in Salford from next month before nationwide roll-out could also replace blanket quarantine by allowing those with negative test results to stop self-isolating before the 14 days currently required.

“The world we want to move to is a world where everyone can take enabling tests at the beginning of the day, an antigen test to determine whether we have the virus or not, like a pregnancy test, so that we know whether we are able to live our lives as normally as possible,” said Mr Johnson. 

Theatres and sports venues could test all audience members and let in those with a negative result. “Workplaces could be opened up to all those who test negative that morning and allow them to behave in a way that was normal before Covid,” said Mr Johnson.

Two new fast tests were launched yesterday. One, by British AI specialists iAbra, uses microscopic holographic imaging to “see” Covid-19 molecules and produces results with 99.5 per cent accuracy in 20 seconds.

A second fast saliva-based Covid test by HALO, a British biotech firm, is to be rolled out at Exeter University for symptomatic and vulnerable students.

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