James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Health Minister tells Nick Ferrari he is confident UK will hit testing target
27 April 2020, 11:41
The UK has days to reach its target of 100,000 coronavirus tests a day and the Health Minister was adamant that number would be reached.
Health Minister Ed Argar joined Nick to speak about the UK's coronavirus response and how our testing capacity has been ramped up in recent weeks to be able to meet the target.
Nick began by asking the Minister "how many tests were completed yesterday" where Mr Argar announced the number was just shy of 30,000. He reassured Nick by telling him that "the capacity has significantly increased" and that we're seeing a shift in the process, pointing out that last weekend was a rare weekend where "we didn't see a drop off in testing". He insisted that this is a sign that the increase in capacity has allowed the government to exponentially increase testing.
Nick challenged the Health Minister to a bet, as he wasn't confident the UK would reach its target of 100,000 daily tests by the end of the month. Proposing the loser donates to Captain Tom Moore's fund, Nick stated "£100 says you won't reach 100,000 target", to which Mr Argar shared he was not a betting man and suggested a "gentleman's bet".
"I am confident we will achieve that target" the Health Secretary maintained, assuring Nick that he believes the infrastructure is now in place to hit 100,000 tests per day.
Nick came back to testing and asked the Minster about how long it takes to get results. "Can we speed that up in some way shape or form" he wondered. Mr Argar noted that test results are "not something people should have to wait for" but stated that he hadn't heard "any report of significant numbers being significantly delayed".
"The dam is bursting, the people are getting lockdown fatigue" Nick told the Minister, and asked what the government thought of a lifting of the lockdown and people flouting lockdown. The Health Minister pointed out that "the British people have been fantastic with sticking with this" and they can thank themselves for the fact that "at no point has NHS capacity been outstripped by demand" because of their remarkable behaviour in sticking with lockdown.
On the topic of the of the UK's death toll, Mr Argar mentioned that the "infection rate and death rate appears to be steadying and starting to slow" but told Nick that the Chief Medical Officer warned him we're not able to say the UK is recovering just yet.
He pointed out that "we will get latest ONS figures of deaths in the community" later on in the week and that may lift the death toll more than the current trend of plateauing.
"We are not out of the woods and sadly I fear we will see more deaths before we're out of this dreadful virus" the Health Minister said.