Government reaches 100,000 a day coronavirus test goal, says Matt Hancock

1 May 2020, 18:31

Matt Hancock said the government had reached its 100,000 tests target
Matt Hancock said the government had reached its 100,000 tests target. Picture: PA

By Megan White

The Government has reached its goal to carry out 100,000 coronavirus tests per day by the end of April, Matt Hancock has announced.

The Health Secretary revealed that 122,347 people were tested on Thursday in an “unprecedented expansion” of capacity across the UK.

But there are doubts around how the tests are being counted, with that number believed to include tests which have been sent out to key-workers but which have not yet been completed and returned.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care, 73,191 people were tested yesterday.

A total of 27,510 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Thursday, up by 739 on the day before.

Mr Hancock heralded the expansion in testing beyond 100,000 a day as an "incredible achievement".

He said: "I knew that it was an audacious goal, but we needed an audacious goal, because testing is so important for getting Britain back on her feet.

"I can announce that we have met our goal. The number of tests yesterday, on the last day of April, was 122,347.

"This unprecedented expansion in British testing capability is an incredible achievement, but it is not my achievement, it is a national achievement."

The Health Secretary said that the testing capacity built would "help every single person in this country".

The Government said in the 24 hours up to 9am on 1 May, there were 122,347 tests in the UK
The Government said in the 24 hours up to 9am on 1 May, there were 122,347 tests in the UK. Picture: Cabinet Office

He said testing is "crucial to suppress the virus" and would "help us to unlock the lockdown".

Mr Hancock said the teams who increased capacity, had "joined in one of the greatest national mobilisations we've seen".

He added: "Setting stretching, ambitious goals in a crisis has a galvanising effect on everybody involved. It is a mission.

"If we hadn't been so bold, if we'd chosen a safer, easier path, I just can't see how we would have built the capacity that we need."

Mr Hancock praised his team, along with health and other organisations, for working "tirelessly" to meet the 100,000 per day testing target.

"This is how we did it - because everybody worked together, with grit and determination, to reach a shared goal," he said.

"They thrived because the team contained diversity of perspectives, background and, critically, diversity of thought.

"And when things went wrong, which they did every single day, believe me, we didn't ask who we could blame, we asked how we could fix it.

"To my team, I want to say you toiled tirelessly night and day and I'm so proud of what you have achieved.

"To all of you, on behalf of Government, on behalf of the whole country, thank you."

It comes as doubts were cast over how the tests have been counted.

Guidance on the official Government website appears to have changed in the days before the testing deadline.

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In the days prior to April 28, there was no reference to how tests were counted.

But on April 28, the guidance said the count included: "(i) test conducted with a result and (ii) test posted to an individual at home."

On April 30, the page stated that the number of tests includes "tests processed through our labs (and) tests sent to individuals at home or to satellite testing locations".

Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: "We want the Government's test, isolate and trace strategy to succeed and welcomed expanding who was eligible to get a test, but counting a test put in the post is not the same as a conducted test and getting results.

"Ministers should focus on making sure these tests are administered effectively rather than moving the goalposts to hit their own arbitrary target.

"Government should urgently clarify its position at tonight's press conference."