Liverpool is to be offered a city-wide coronavirus test in the first pilot of the government’s mass testing scheme Operation Moonshot.
These offer results in just an hour, rather than the more usual 24 - 48 hours.
Ministers believe the move will identify many of those who have Covid-19 but do not know it and help to reduce the spread of the disease.
The pilot will also act as a test for how a wider scheme might be delivered across the country.
The tests open up the possibility that thousands of people without symptoms will be ordered to self-isolate for a fortnight.
But ministers say that the move will allow the city to return to normal more quickly than others not receiving the tests.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the rollout would help suppress the virus and “give residents and workers some peace of mind”.
The scheme will use a combination of existing swab tests and new lateral flow tests, which can turn around results within an hour without the need to be processed in a lab.
The new procedures will also be used for NHS staff. The results will be collected by NHS Test and Trace and published daily.
Those who do test positive, and their contacts, will potentially be entitled to the current £500 Test and Trace support payment.
Liverpool is currently in tier 3, the “very high” risk level, with weekly cases at 410 per 100,000.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace said the message the armed forces had for the people of Liverpool was “we will have your backs throughout the trial”.
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