A test that takes just 20 minutes to determine if someone has Covid-19 will be trialled across Hampshire, it has been announced.

As previously reported by the Gazette last month, Basingstoke hospital validated a test for coronavirus which at the time was thought could be used across the UK for rapid testing of the disease, which is faster than any other test currently in use.

Today, during the daily press briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced a trial of the rapid test to tell people if they currently have Covid-19 following criticisms that people have been waiting days or weeks for test results.

A&E departments, GP testing hubs and care homes in Hampshire will all trial the new test, which will be used on up to 4,000 people.

The Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospitals in Basingstoke, Andover and Winchester, is leading the trials on behalf of the Government.

RELATED: Fastest Covid test developed in Basingstoke now set to be rolled out across the UK

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of the trust, said: "We are tremendously excited to be able to support the government’s efforts for ever more accessible, faster coronavirus testing.

"That we are able to do so is a testament to the hard work and ingenuity of our entire microbiology department, from clinical scientists and the laboratory team to volunteers from academia and industry as well as the staff on the wards.

"We are very much looking forward to the results of this trial and the benefits it will bring to the community we serve."

The test does not need to be sent off to a lab and will be rolled out if it is shown to be effective, Mr Hancock said.

The test can be used from nasal and throat swabs, using isothermal LAMP technology that does not require expensive and time-consuming extraction methods.

The announcement of the trial comes on the same day that data gathered from an antibody surveillance study led by the Office for National Statistics suggested that 17% of people in London and around 5% in England have tested positive for antibodies to coronavirus.

While it remains unclear what level of immunity people develop once they have had Covid-19, some experts hope a degree of immunity lasts for at least a year or two.

However, having antibodies does not automatically mean a person will not pass the virus onto somebody else.

The 20-minute test, developed by UK company OptiGene, was created using a simple molecular diagnostic test, which the company said back in April could be rapidly deployed around the UK to significantly increase the capacity to diagnose the deadly virus.