The method, developed by a team at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), can detect the virus far more quickly than a PCR test, which typically takes around  two hours.

It is hoped that the technology can eventually help relieve strain on hard-pressed A&E departments, particularly in countries where PCR tests are not readily available.

The technique utilises X-ray technology, comparing scans to a database of around 3,000 images belonging to patients with Covid-19, healthy individuals, and people with viral pneumonia.

It then uses an AI process known as a deep convolutional neural network, an algorithm typically used to analyse visual imagery, to make a diagnosis.

During an extensive testing phase, the technique proved over 98 per cent accurate, according to the researchers.

“There has long been a need for a quick and reliable tool that can detect Covid-19, and this has become even more true with the upswing of the omicron variant,” said Professor...