James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
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."
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."