News | Published April 01 2020

Coronavirus testing must go “further, faster” says Gove

Yesterday, Michael Gove admitted that the UK needed to go “further, faster” to provide more for coronavirus tests.

Health secretary Matt Hancock, supported this, and has said that hospitals with spare laboratory space should test self-isolating NHS staff in England for coronavirus.

His announcement follows extensive criticism of the government for a lack of testing of frontline staff who could return to work if found not to have coronavirus.

Hancock has said that as many staff should be tested as possible, with health officials noting that laboratories have the opportunity to process more tests.

Gove noted that the rise in death toll was "deeply shocking" and that "now is absolutely not the time for people to imagine there can be any relaxation or slackening" of government measures.

With regards to testing, he said that the ability to further testing capacity had been limited by the lack of chemicals required to test patients.

He said: "More NHS staff are returning to the front line, and more testing is taking place to help those self-isolating come back, and to protect those working so hard in our hospitals and in social care.”

Thus far, testing has been directed at patients, however NHS England has told hospitals they ought to use up to 15 per cent of their testing ability for staff.

Plans to work with both universities and the private sector have been announced by ministers in the hope of scaling up testing.

The chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, has said that if the current NHS pathology labs had unlimited resources, the machines have a capacity to deliver 100,000 tests a day.

However, Hopson noted that: "reagent and swab shortage is currently limiting this to [around] 13,000 a day".

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Authored by

Alice Jaspars
Culture Editor
April 01 2020

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