Families of loved ones living in care homes have questioned why rapid covid tests haven’t been prioritised for their visits.

This week, 2,000 military personnel arrived in Liverpool to roll-out the huge programme of testing in the hope of driving down infections in the city.

Everyone who lives and works in the city will be offered the chance to get tested through a combination of the existing swab tests and new rapid testing technologies.

But local campaigners Rights for Residents say they are “taken aback” that after almost nine months of “incarceration”, these tests haven’t instead been given to relatives across the UK, so those living in care homes can be reunited with their families.

Their petition to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, which calls for relatives of those in care homes to be given key worker status, has now been signed by more than 180,000 people.

Campaigner Diane Mayhew told the ECHO : “The fact that these rapid tests will only apply to the Liverpool City Region has left thousands across the UK devastated wondering when and how this Liverpool scheme will be extended.

“So, whilst on the surface this sounds like a major step forward, we are calling for the Government to make these rapid tests a priority for relatives across the UK who are desperate to see their loved ones in care homes and care settings.