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Health Secretary announces plans for 100,000 tests a day for COVID-19 in England by end of April

Health Secretary announces plans for 100,000 tests a day for COVID-19 in England by end of April

The UK's Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that the government aims to carry out 100,000 coronavirus tests a day in England by the end of April.

Mr Hancock announced a five-point plan of factors designed to deliver the new target. This includes;

  • Swab tests (antigen tests) in labs run by Public Health England to check if people already have the virus
  • Swab tests distributed through commercial partners and private businesses such as Amazon and Boots
  • The introduction of antibody blood tests to check whether people have had the virus
  • Surveillance to determine the rate of infection and its spread across the country
  • Building a British diagnostics industry with the help of pharmaceutical companies and diagnostics companies

Speaking at the daily Coronavirus press conference from Downing Street, Mr Hancock said;

"I’m delighted that the pharmaceutical industry is rising to this challenge and putting unprecedented resources into testing"

"I am now setting the goal of 100,000 tests per day by the end of this month.That is the goal and I’m determined that we will get there."

Opposition parties and health parties have expressed scepticism over whether the new target can be met.

Mr Hancock's appearance at the press conference came after he had been in quarantine for 7 days after testing positive for the COVID-19 Coronavirus last week. Mr Hancock's appearance sparked criticism from journalists and MPs as official advice from the World Health Organization posted on social media states that anybody who is confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 (such as Mr Hancock) should stay in self-isolation for at least 14 days.

The announcement of increased testing came after days of mounting criticism that the government had been slow to roll out testing, in particular to NHS staff and key workers. Speaking on Thursday, Mr Hancock said that 5,000 NHS staff had been tested since testing began at the weekend and that all health service staff will be able to get tested, "absolutely before the end of the month".

In other Coronavirus news;

  • The number of total worldwide confirmed cases has now reached over 1 million, with over 51,000 deaths. 
  • In the UK, there are 33,718 confirmed cases and 2,921 have sadly died.
  • There were 569 deaths related to COVID-19 in the UK between Wednesday and Thursday.
  • 950,000 people successfully applied for Universal Credit in the UK in just the last two weeks, up around 850,000 on usual numbers

 

Photo Credit: Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street under licence (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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