NHS boss vows huge increase in coronavirus testing

25 March 2020, 10:30

The Medical Director of NHS England has told LBC that they will increase coronavirus testing from 5,000 to "hundreds of thousands per day" in the next couple of weeks.

So far in the UK, the NHS has tested 90,436 people for coronavirus, with 8,077 testing positive. But Professor Stephen Powis promised they will be hugely increasing that in the next fortnight.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari, he said: "Testing is absolutely essential, not just for staff but for patients, and we are ramping it up all the time.

"We want to get hundreds of thousands of tests per day in the next couple of weeks. That's what we're aiming for.

"Remember this is a new virus and we are starting from scratch. The kits that we need to do that testing are being manufactured as we speak."

Nick pointed out that on Monday, just 5,605 tests were carried out - a long way from the six-figure number Professor Powis is promising.

But he insisted: "In the last 24 hours, we've opened a new lab in Milton Keynes to ramp up testing using one particular manufacturers kit. We need to get to hundreds of thousands of tests per day and we will do that in the next couple of weeks.

"We will be making tests available to NHS staff in the next couple of days."

Coronavirus testing will be hugely increased in the UK
Coronavirus testing will be hugely increased in the UK. Picture: PA

Professor Powis added we can all do our bit to save lives - simply by staying at home.

He added: "The reason those instructions have been introduced is the way to suppress the epidemic is to avoid social contact.

"Basically, we are avoiding the possibility of spreading the virus to other people. We've seen in other countries that the approach can work. China is starting to relax some of its restrictions.

"The really important thing to take the pressure off the NHS and to save lives is to do what you have been told. It's everyone's responsibility."

More Nick Ferrari

See more More Nick Ferrari

Exclusive
Boris Johnson said if people visit Rwanda they would see it is "going places"

'You'd change your mind about Rwanda if you visited': Boris defends controversial plan

The Prime Minister was grilled by Nick Ferrari on the last day of the Nato summit

Watch in Full: Nick Ferrari grills Boris Johnson

Exclusive
The PM defended sending billions in support to Ukraine during the cost-of-living crisis

PM defends Ukraine aid in cost of living crisis as he's grilled over '£150k treehouse'

'I won't be shopping in Sainsbury's again but I went back for my apology'

Mum slams supermarket after being told off by worker for breastfeeding in car park

'It's not govt policy to arm Taiwan': Foreign Affairs Committee Chair on Liz Truss' gaffe

'It's not govt policy to arm Taiwan': Foreign Affairs Committee Chair on Liz Truss' gaffe

Ben Wallace said Putin was a 'lunatic'

Putin a 'lunatic with small man syndrome' says minister as PM blasts 'toxic masculinity'

Russian invasion of Ukraine made Nato 'look again' at military capability, says defence chief

Russian invasion of Ukraine made Nato 'look again' at military capability, says defence chief

There's an 'ethical and political vacuum in No10', says former chief of staff

There's an 'ethical and political vacuum in No10', says former chief of staff

Nick Ferrari grilled Priti Patel on her Rwanda migrant plan.

Rwanda migrant plan is not 'appalling' but 'should be a deterrent', Priti Patel tells LBC

Exclusive
Lord Bilimoria, outgoing president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) speaks to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

'Reduce taxes now': Outgoing CBI chief calls on Rishi to slash 'highest taxes in 70 years'

Grant Shapps has criticised the RMT leader Mick Lynch.

Rail strike called under 'false pretences' by RMT's '1970s union baron' boss, says Shapps

Ofgem chief warns price cap hike 'could be more' than predicted £800

Ofgem chief warns price cap hike 'could be more' than predicted £800

Exclusive
The chairman of Network Rail Sir Peter Hendy has told LBC the industry can be run more effectively with fewer staff.

'Steam age' railway can be run more effectively with fewer staff, rail boss says

Rail strikes will cause "misery for millions"

'Driving unrest and stoking unrealistic expectations': Minister slams RMT ahead of strikes

'What's the point of advisors?!': Nick Ferrari baffled by resignation of Lord Geidt

'What's the point of advisors?!': Nick Ferrari baffled by resignation of Lord Geidt

The minister was speaking to LBC 's Nick Ferrari

Minister calls on Mayor of London to drop congestion charge on rail strike days