Nick Ferrari grills Communities Secretary on UK's struggles with coronavirus testing

1 April 2020, 08:48 | Updated: 1 April 2020, 09:13

By Adrian Sherling

Nick Ferrari told the Communities Secretary that the public are starting to question the government's honesty over the lack of coronavirus testing in the UK.

The UK is testing substantially fewer people for Covid-19 than a lot of other countries and in yesterday's press conference, Michael Gove said they were having problems sourcing the reagents needed for the kits.

However, the Chemicals Industry Association dismissed that, saying it wasn't true and they would be getting in contact with Mr Gove.

So Nick asked Robert Jenrick who was telling the truth.

Mr Jenrick responded: "As I understand it, we don't have access to all of the ingredients that we need. And we are starting to ramp up production quite significantly.

"We now have a capacity for more than 12,000. Within days, we expect that to be 15,000 and we'll move forward to our target of 25,000 by the middle of April."

Nick Ferrari grilled Robert Jenrick over coronavirus testing
Nick Ferrari grilled Robert Jenrick over coronavirus testing. Picture: LBC / PA

But Nick pointed out Germany is testing around 70,000 people per day, so asked again why the UK was lagging behind.

Mr Jenrick said: "Testing is a crucial part of the UK's response and we're working on multiple fronts to increase testing capacity.

"Germany has a large number of testing labs with well-developed pharma and biotech industries able to do this. We also have strengths in these fields and we also have strengths in other industries, as we've seen with ventilators.

"So British businesses are stepping up, but they do have different underlying strengths than countries like Germany."

After asking why one UK company is selling coronavirus tests abroad, Nick told the Communities Secretary: "People are starting to question the level of candour that is coming from your government as regards to testing kits, as regards to chemicals and these reagents.

"Are you aware there is a line over which you will accidentally tread and they won't believe a word you and your colleagues are saying?"

Mr Jenrick responded: "It's important for a government to always be candid. We have always followed expert medical and scientific opinion. That has been the rail we have clung to with all the decisions we have made."

It was a fiery interview - watch at the top of the page.