Four weeks ago, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced a target of conducting 100,000 COVID-19 tests each day before the end of April, which was successfully hit on the last day of the month. During Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday, Boris Johnson set a new target of conducting 200,000 coronavirus tests each day before the end of May, although Downing Street later clarified this was for capacity, rather than the number of tests carried out. But daily testing numbers have been on a sharp decline, and today it was revealed the Government has failed to meet its coronavirus testing target for the fifth day in a row.
The latest figures showed 86,583 yesterday COVID-19 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 9am on Thursday.
The total was 69,463 up to 9am on Wednesday, 84,806 up to 9am on Tuesday, 85,186 up to 9am on Monday and 76,496 up to 9am on Sunday – all well short of the 100,000 daily target.
The Government had smashed this target on April 30 – the last day of the month, with 122,347 tests, but this total included more than 40,000 home testing kits that had been sent out and not returned.
Professor Karol Sikora, Oncologist for 50 years, Founding Dean and Professor of Medicine at University of Buckingham Medical School and former director of WHO cancer programme, has warned the government needs to recover this situation quickly.
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Coronavirus testing: The government has fallen behind ts daily target
He tweeted: “Hitting the 100,000 tests a day was impressive, but it means nothing if it can’t be sustained. So far, it doesn’t look good.
“Testing needs to be increasing all the time. Now it’s going in the other direction.
“Lots more work needed on this.”
He also told Express.co.uk: “Forget the bickering over the 100,000 tests a day – the Government did remarkably well to ramp up testing in such a short amount of time.
Coronavirus testing; The Government met its monthly target towards the end of April
“What concerns me is the slipping of the numbers. We need to be hitting these numbers consistently, if the people aren’t there to be tested, expand the criteria.
“If test, track and trace is to work then we’re looking at millions of tests a month.
“We need to get systems going on an industrial scale, it’s now purely an exercise in logistics.”
The Government is once again coming under increasing criticism over the UK’s coronavirus testing capabilities.
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Reacting to the latest testing numbers, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Far from delivering on the promise of 100,000 completed tests a day, testing numbers have now fallen four days in a row.
“A test, trace and isolate strategy is crucial to tackling this virus.
“Ministers need to explain why the number of tests being completed daily is falling rather than rising.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer – facing Mr Johnson for the first time during PMQs – increased the pressure on the Government over the falling testing numbers.
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He said: “On April 30, the Government claimed success in meeting its 100,000 tests a day target. Since then, as the prime minister knows, the number has fallen back.
“On Monday, there were just 84,000 tests and that meant thousands of available tests were not used.
“What does the Prime Minister think was so special about April 30 that meant that testing that day was so high?”
Mr Johnson replied: “Yes, he’s right that capacity currently exceeds demand, we’re working on that, we’re running at about 100,000 a day, but the ambition clearly is to get up to 200,000 a day by the end of this month and then to go even higher.
“And as he knows and the whole House will know, a fantastic testing regime is going to be absolutely critical to our long-term economic recovery.”
Coronavirus testing: Matt Hancock Britain is ‘miles ahead’ and now a world leader on testing
Mr Hancock has also insisted Britain is “miles ahead” and now a world leader on testing.
He told Sky News on Wednesday: “We invented the test in January. In February we got the number of tests up to 2,000 (a day). In March we multiplied that by five times to 10,000. Then we set the 100,000 target.
“The Germans started with this enormous diagnostics industry. But if you look at other countries around the world we are miles ahead on testing and we are now one of the world leaders.
“It is true that Germany has a very high capacity – about the same as ours. So we have basically caught up with Germany that started with this massive capability.
“We are miles ahead of South Korea now. Absolutely.”
Published at Thu, 07 May 2020 16:39:00 +0000