Coronavirus home testing kits will be made available in the UK within a matter of days, rather than weeks or months, according to health officials.
Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service, told the science and technology committee that 3.5m tests had been bought and would be available “within days”.
The coronavirus kits will be delivered by Amazon to those in the UK self-isolating with symptoms, and will also go on sale on the high street.
The test involves pricking the finger to draw blood, which is then analysed by the device. They will first be tested in Oxford this week before being made available to the general public.
“Several million tests have been purchased for use. These are brand new products. We have to be clear they work as they are claimed to do,” Peacock said.
“Once they have been tested this week and the bulk of tests arrive, they will be distributed into the community.”
Peacock told MPs that if there is a charge for home testing she believed it would be minimal.
Currently, only patients in hospital are being routinely tested for coronavirus in the UK, so if people have symptoms they may well not be able to find out, even if they are working for the NHS. Healthcare workers have raised concerns they could be spreading Covid-19 unknowingly.
In total, 90,436 people in the UK had been tested for coronavirus as of 24 March, and the government plans to increase this to 25,000 tests a day within four weeks.
The director of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has previously said he had a “simple message” for countries: “Test, test, test.”
He added: “We cannot stop this pandemic if we do not know who is infected.”