LONDON: Britain expanded its testing scheme on Monday (May 18) to allow anyone aged over five with COVID-19 symptoms to book a test to see if they have the virus, health minister Matt Hancock announced.
Hancock also said the government had recruited 21,000 staff to work for its tracing system designed to find those who have had contact with someone who has the coronavirus.
The expanded testing programme and track-and-trace system are key parts of Britain's plan to move back to normality after a viral outbreak which has killed more 40,000 people.
The number of people who have died in the United Kingdom after testing positive for COVID-19 rose by 160 to 34,796, the health department said on Twitter on Monday.
A total of 246,406 people have tested positive for the virus, up 2,684.
"We now have the elements we need to roll out our national test and trace service: the testing capacity, the tracing capability and the technology. Building that system is incredibly important," Hancock said.
Britain has already eased some of the restrictions implemented eight weeks ago to limit the spread of the virus, but remains on high alert in case the rate of transmission begins to increase.
If the number of cases continues to fall, Britain hopes to begin re-opening schools and other parts of its shuttered economy over the coming months.