“GAMECHANGING” rapid coronavirus tests will lift Basildon from “a dark place” while Southend is set to miss out altogether.

County Hall is set to roll out 10,000 rapid tests, with Basildon set to be a priority due to its growing infection rate.

But the Echo can reveal Southend did not request to be part of the scheme.

The rapid Covid tests give results in 30 minutes which will aim to reduce the infection rate in hotspot areas across Essex and help introduce visitors back into care homes.

But the Government is now facing calls to include Southend as part of the mass testing programme, with all other Essex districts, including Thurrock, already part of it.

Southend Council bosses say they did not ask to be part of this testing programme, but have made a request to part of the “next phase”.

A spokesman confirmed the council is waiting confirmation.

Gavin Callaghan, leader of Basildon Council, said: “There is a serious problem with asymptomatic people in the community. It could get worse before it gets better.

“Basildon needs to be prioritised. I have also asked the county council to include teachers as part of the scheme.

“This is a game changer. Basildon is a manufacturing economy, they need to go to work. But they are taking it home to their families.

“The idea that we don’t have people from Southend coming into Basildon to work or see their family is wrong. The whole region needs to be treated the same.”

The lateral flow tests are set to be given to every care home for staff, visitors and residents before Christmas.

The tests will also be distributed to businesses which has a coronavirus outbreak.

Contacts of a positive coronavirus case will also be able to receive a rapid test.

Tony Cox, the leader of Southend’s Tory group, said: “We have to be part of it, even if it’s just for care homes. This will get visitors back in there.

“I suspect it may be because our infection rate is lower and still going down, but we need to be part of it.

“Our care home residents are vulnerable and will want to see their families, especially over Christmas.”

Trevor Harp, councillor in charge of adult health and social care, added: “We always want to put ourselves in the frame. Our rates are stubbornly low, and are lowering.

“The Government wants to roll these out nationally, but that needs to be done as soon as possible.”

A spokesman from Essex County Council, said: “There is a national pilot scheme testing the use in care homes of the new lateral flow tests; these are the tests that give an answer in around 30 minutes with no need for laboratory processing.

“We are keen to learn from this pilot in Essex.

“We are considering the appropriate use of these tests in other settings, such as large employers, but more work is needed on how this might work.

“The council has now received delivery of its first 10,000 tests.

“We want to make the best use of these test and expect to be focusing on areas were case numbers are highest.

“We will seek to work with all partners as we develop plans to implement testing. Local councils and the NHS are key partners.”