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Matt Hancock stands by his claim that the UK was "well-equipped" for coronavirus pandemic
3 April 2020, 08:20
The Health Secretary has told LBC he stands by his claim that the UK was "well-prepared and well-equipped" for the coronavirus pandemic.
In January, Matt Hancock had said in the House of Commons that the UK was "well-prepared and well-equipped to tackle any contagion" and that we "had a world-leading test for Covid-19".
But yesterday, he admitted the government had had difficulties getting enough tests for coronavirus.
Nick asked him: "Had you been misled, or were you lying?"
But Mr Hancock insisted: "No, no, that is totally accurate.
"Our goal was to reach 10,000 tests by the end of March and we met that goal. But we clearly need to do more and increase that number.
"In terms of the overall preparations, nobody can be fully prepared, no country can be fully-prepared for a new disease.
"But in terms of the amount of PPE protective equipment we've got in store, it's hard distributing that to every single person on the front line and we've got a huge effort underway on that.
"In terms of the world-leading test, we developed one of the first here. The challenge is the massive expansion needed of testing."
Nick asked that if he is standing by his words that we were well-prepared, why are we scrambling to have enough ventilators and masks?
The Health Secretary responded: "Because you've got to respond to the individual disease that we face. This is a new disease.
"Ventilators are a good case in point. Of course we have ventilators in the NHS. But we suddenly have one particular disease that leads to many people needing ventilators, far more than any health service would have in peacetime.
"The NHS, which usually treats a whole range of diseases, is now having to focus very strongly on one disease that causes problems with your lungs and ability to breathe - hence the massive increase that we've seen in the ventilator capacity.
"One of the things I'm really proud of is that the NHS has managed to stay ahead of the demand for it. As of yesterday, there were 1,800 spare critical care beds in the NHS, so that everybody who needs treatment is able to get it. We haven't seen that in all countries, but we have here because the NHS was well-prepared to respond."