People living in Hertfordshire will be given access to quick turnaround coronavirus tests, the Department for Health & Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says mass testing will be rolled out to 66 local authorities in England.

Mr Hancock says the 66 authorities, which includes Hertfordshire, had already expressed an interest in the tests and he was expecting more to sign up.

The testing has already been available in Liverpool with thousands of people queuing up at various new testing sites to see whether they have Covid-19 or not.

Watford Observer:

People queuing up a new Covid testing centre in Liverpool offering tests to people with no symptoms. Credit: PA

Lateral flow tests, with a turnaround time of under an hour, have been available since Friday for people who live and work in the northern city and do not have symptoms.

At the moment in Hertfordshire, only people with coronavirus symptoms can book a test or those contacted by Test & Trace or particular key workers.

Although cases are low in comparison to the north of England, the latest weekly rates in all ten of Hertfordshire's districts is over 100 cases per 100,000 population - this would have likely been enough to see the county fall into Tier 2 restrictions had a national lockdown not been implemented already.

Speaking on Sky News, Mr Hancock said: "I can confirm that we are rolling out the sort of mass testing we are seeing in Liverpool, and indeed we earlier piloted in Stoke-on-Trent, across 66 local authorities.

"Last night I wrote to the directors of public health of all local authorities in England saying we can make available these brilliant new lateral flow tests that give results in 15 minutes, and we can make them available to directors of public health right across the country.

"Sixty-six expressed an interest in the first instance, I’m now expecting a whole load more."

The Government said on Monday that some 600,000 lateral flow test kits will be issued to directors of public health across England in the coming days.

Some 10,000 tests will be made available to each area to help them start testing priority groups, which will then be followed up with a weekly allocation.

Directors of public health were prioritised for the first phase of rapid community testing based on the local prevalence of Covid-19 and expressions of interest to the DHSC.

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: "We asked the Department of Health to include Hertfordshire in this roll-out of rapid testing kits, as we believe that they will help us protect our most vulnerable residents, and the people who work with them, by identifying asymptomatic cases quickly and allowing us to reduce the risk of transmission."