News | Published June 04 2020

PMQs: Boris Johnson makes Covid-19 test turnaround pledge

Speaking in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson pledged that all Covid-19 tests will return results within 24 hours by the end of June.

The pledge is one that the government previously set out on May 27, but it had not set a deadline on fulfilling it until Wednesday’s session in Parliament.

Testing chief Dido Harding said that 84 per cent of tests conducted in drive-in centres return results within 24 hours, with 95 per cent turned around within 48 hours. However, the figures for home testing kits remain unknown.

Facing questions from Health Select Committee chair Jeremy Hunt, the prime minister promised “to get all tests turned around in 24 hours by the end of June, except for difficulties with postal tests or insuperable problems like that."

Under the government’s new contact tracing system, anybody returning a positive Covid-19 diagnosis will be contacted to gauge who they have been in contact with and ascertain their recent whereabouts.

There have been some issues over the accuracy of the standard nose and throat swab tests, which are thought to return false negatives in 25-30 per cent of cases.

Unions have stressed that NHS staff must be tested more than once to ensure that they do not have the virus.

The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association [HCSA] claims that the government has refused to provide information on the accuracy of existing tests and about how tests so far have been conducted, including matters such as the manufacturer which provided each individual test.

During Wednesday's session, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticised the prime minister over the government's handling of the pandemic, adding that public confidence had been undermined.

This included criticism of the prime minister's pressing ahead with reopening schools despite the absence of "an effective test, track and trace system" and a lack of transparency over statistics after the UK Statistics Authority questioned the government's presentation of testing figures.

Sir Keir said: "I have supported the government openly and I've taken criticism for it, but, boy, he [the prime minister] makes it difficult to support this government over the last two weeks."

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
June 04 2020

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