Anybody aged five and over who has coronavirus symptoms is now eligible for a test to see if they have the disease, the health secretary has announced.
Matt Hancock added that the government has also recruited 21,000 staff to work on its tracing system, designed to find those who have had contact with someone who has had COVID-19.
The expanded testing programme and track and trace system are key parts of Britain’s plan to move back to normality, following an outbreak which has killed at least 34,000 people across all settings in the UK.
Mr Hancock told the House of Commons: “I can announce to the house that everyone aged five and over with symptoms is now eligible for a test.
“That applies right across the UK in all four nations from now.”
He added: “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.”
Previously only essential workers, the over-65s and individuals who live with them could apply for coronavirus testing on the NHS website – if they were showing symptoms.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also announced an expansion in testing to anyone aged five or over with coronavirus symptoms in Scotland.
She added the country could begin easing its coronavirus lockdown measures from the end of May.
The UK government has already eased some restrictions in England, which were 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.
Downing Street hopes to begin re-opening schools and other parts of the economy in the coming weeks and months if the number of positive cases continues to fall.
The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have indicated that they will follow their own path when it comes to easing their own restrictions.
Mr Hancock’s announcement in the House of Commons came after the chief medical officers added the loss of taste and smell to the NHS’ list of coronavirus symptoms.
A noticeable change to taste and smell is also now regarded as a symptom.
It comes weeks after experts first raised concerns that cases were being missed.
Anyone suffering the newly-added symptoms, or a continuous cough or high fever, should self-isolate for seven days to risk the spread of infection.
Anyone they live with should stay home for 14 days.