London Offices housing firms with 50 or more employees are set to get a new layer of protection against Coronavirus with a roll-out of extra rapid testing.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has announced that the government has reached a deal with Derby-based firm SureVac to provide 20 million new rapid tests, which will be able to deliver results within 30 minutes.

He announced on the televised daily Coronavirus briefing today (February 8th) that these will be made available to all firms with staff of 50 or more where people are working on the premises instead of from home. It means that companies will be able to identify staff with asymptomatic infections and send them home to isolate.

Mr Hancock said the raid lateral flow tests would improve the capacity to keep virus numbers down, stating that they will be “helping us to identify the around one in three people who are asymptomatic and break chains of transmission in our workplaces and communities”.

Providers of commercial cleaning services in London will still have a role to play in making offices safe, however, as disinfecting surfaces and providing ventilation that removes airborne Covid particles will also play a key role in making workplaces safe.

While many London offices will function better and more safely with the rapid tests, it remains to be seen how soon they can return to normal.

Although a quarter of the UK public has now received a first dose of vaccine, concerns about the new South African variant that appears to diminish the efficacy of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine have led to concerns that social distancing and other restrictions may have to wait for longer.

However, at the government briefing chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam said the South African variant appears unlikely to become the main strain the UK ahead of the existing Kent mutation.

He said the likelihood is there will be booster vaccines designed to tackle new variants available by autumn, likening the situation to the way new jabs are produced for flu every year.