UK coronavirus tests fall well below 100,000 target just days after deadline

3 May 2020, 17:19

The government's promise of 100,000 coronavirus is proving challenging
The government's promise of 100,000 coronavirus is proving challenging. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The number of coronavirus tests carried out in a day has already fallen well below the government's target of 100,000.

Speaking at this afternoon's daily Downing Street press conference, Cabinet minister Micheal Gove said the number of tests carried in 24 hours up to 9am this morning was 76,496.

The national medical director of England Dr Stephen Powis said: "Over 100,000, a little bit of a dip in the weekend but we anticipate that that testing capacity will continue to increase. It’s a very important component of our approach going forward."

The dip indicates a fall from 105,937 to today's figure of 76,496 - which represents 37 per cent.

The government has managed to achieve their target of 100,000 tests on two days, 1 and 2 May.

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock faced criticism after it transpired that counted in those figures were tests which had been posted out but not necessarily completed.

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Micheal Gove made the announcement at the daily Downing Street press office
Micheal Gove made the announcement at the daily Downing Street press office. Picture: PA
There have now been two days of falls in the number of tests being carried out
There have now been two days of falls in the number of tests being carried out. Picture: PA

It comes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said more lives could have been saved if mass testing had been implemented sooner.

He said: "If we had had 100,000 test capacity before this thing started and the knowledge that we now have retrospectively I'm sure many things could be different.

"The fact of the matter is this is not a country that had - although we're very big in pharmaceuticals as a country - we're not a country that had very large test capacity."

It also comes as the total UK death toll rose to 28,446, an increase of 315 from the day before.

There had been doubts the government would reach the target by the deadline, and the day before the deadline 81,611 were performed.

A total of186,599 people have tested positive, and 1,206,405 coronavirus tests have been carried out in the UK so far.

But Mr Gove was keen to point out where testing has been increased, and set a new pilot scheme will be deployed on the Isle of Wight this week.

He said: "Thanks to the hard work of so many across the NHS, Public Health England, our pharmaceutical sector and our universities, we have tested over 200,000 key workers and their families, allowing those who don't have the virus to go back to work and protecting those who do.

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"We have now of course extended the criteria for testing beyond key workers to anyone over 65 displaying symptoms, and anyone who has to travel to get to work.

"And this week, we will be piloting new test, track and trace procedures on the Isle of Wight with a view to having them in place more widely later this month.

"All of these steps will help us to get more people back to work and help to support the delivery of our public services."

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