Two-hour coronavirus test could free up hospital beds before winter, study finds

Coronavirus tests which only take two hours can be used to free up hospital beds, a Cambridge study has found.

Doctors at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge switched from the standard tests used by the NHS to the new method for nearly all of its testing.

The technology, called SAMBA II, managed to cut test result times from over 24 hours down to just two.

The researchers behind the study said that these faster tests free up hospital beds and speed up access to life-saving treatments ahead of a potential second wave this winter.

The study found that they could halve the time patients spent on a Covid-19 ward from 58.5 hours down to just 30.

This meant they managed to prevent 11 ward closures in the ten days after introducing the new test.

“The backlog of routine operations and screenings as a result of the pandemic is a huge issue, and must be resolved ahead of winter, when the NHS will face even more pressure from other infections like norovirus and influenza,” said study lead author Professor Ravi Gupta.

“Rapidly testing admissions at the point of care is essential for reducing Covid-19 transmission in hospitals, speeding up access to urgent care and allowing safe discharge to care homes. It could make all the difference in a few months’ time.”

“Hospitals across the UK, as well as care homes and prisons, could benefit from SAMBA II devices,” he added.

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