New 90-minute tests that can detect coronavirus and flu will be rolled out in care homes and laboratories from next week.
The “on-the-spot” swab and DNA tests will help distinguish between Covid-19 and other seasonal illnesses, the government said.
The health secretary said this would be “hugely beneficial” over the winter.
Currently, three quarters of test results are returned within 24 hours and a quarter can take up to two days.
The announcement comes as the government pushed back a July target to regularly test care home staff and residents, saying the number of testing kits had become more limited.
Almost half a million of the new rapid swab tests, called LamPORE, will be available from next week in adult care settings and laboratories, with millions more due to be rolled out later in the year.
Additionally, thousands of DNA test machines, which have already been used in eight London hospitals and can analyse nose swabs, will be rolled out across NHS hospitals from September.
Around 5,000 machines will provide 5.8 million tests in the coming months, the Department for Health said.
There is currently no publicly available data on the accuracy of the new tests but Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, who has been advising the government on tests, said they produced the same “sensitivity” as the current lab-based tests.