It came amid fears the capital will go into Tier 3 as early as next Saturday as a result of spiralling cases.
Matt Hancock told the nation this evening: “We must not wait until the review – we need to take targeted action immediately.
“We’ve decided to put in place an immediate plan to test all secondary school children in the worst affected areas of London, in parts of Essex that border London, and parts of Kent.”
MPs from the capital had a crunch meeting with Health ministers today – where they were warned it wasn’t looking good.
Any decision will be made by 16 December – and will come into play on Saturday 19 December.
Matt Hancock warned that the “fall has flattened off and is rising in some parts of the country – like Kent, Essex, and some parts of London”.
He warned: “This fight is not over, we must all play our part and stay on our guard over Christmas. Don’t blow it now.”
One MP on the call said: “It feels like they are preparing us for Tier 3. The data is pointing that way.”
Health ministers told London MPs that the positive test rate across the UK is 5.9 per cent – but it’s more than 7 per cent in the capital.
The worst affected areas are in East London – including Walthamstow, Redbridge, Newham and Barking.
It came after Sadiq Khan, London Mayor, warned any extra rules would be “catastrophic” for the capital.
He said: “Tier 3 would be catastrophic to our hospitality sector – pubs, bars, restaurants would be seriously affected, and our cultural venues.
“Londoners have made huge sacrifices over the last few weeks and months.
“It’s really important, leading up to Christmas where the rules will be relaxed even more, we do all we can to keep ourselves safe, our families safe but also don’t allow the NHS to be overwhelmed in January.”
London now has the highest rate of cases among any region in England.
The capital is one of only three areas where rates are rising, according to the latest data from Public Health England.
There were 191.8 cases per 100,000 people in the week to December 6, up from 158.1 in the previous week.
It’s 20 per cent higher than the week prior, when the whole of England was in the grips of its second lockdown.
For comparison, the figure is 130.9 in the North West – where swathes of authorities are in Tier 3.
The infection rate is 162.5 in the East Midlands, 160 in the South East, 158.4 in the West Midlands, 149.2 in Yorkshire and the Humber, 147.2 in the East of England, 146.2 in the North East, and 77.3 in the South West.
The capital’s overall case rate is 236 cases per 100,000 cases, according to figures from PA.
It’s higher than 22 local authorities in Tier 3, The Sun analysis shows.
Former Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers begged ministers to keep the capital in Tier 2.