Testing times: government promise to deliver 100,000 Covid-19 tests a day by the end of April
The government has promised that testing for coronavirus will increase by five fold in the next week.
They have also disclosed that 15 social care workers have died as a result of the virus, while new figures indicate that the number of deaths in care homes has doubled in the past five days in England.
Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary who replaced Boris Johnson at yesterday’s PMQs, was at odds with Sir Keir Starmer, the new Labour leader, over the government’s testing policy. Raab and Sir Keir were both present in the chamber, while the majority of MPs contributed from home, via the use of video chat.
Johnson is believed to have watched the proceedings from Chequers, where he is currently recovering from the virus.
Sir Keir said that the UK is "very slow and way behind other European countries" in terms of providing tests for Covid-19. He continued, asking how the government could promise to increase the testing capacity in line with their promise of delivering 100,000 tests per day at the end of the month.
He told Raab that: "All week we have heard from the front line, from care workers who are frankly desperate for tests.”
Raab responded that the government was capable of delivering 40,000 tests per day, and that the contribution of new laboratories from next week would allow them to meet their target.
He said: "I've set the goal of 100,000 tests a day by the end of this month and I'm delighted to say that the expansion of capacity is ahead of plans, even though demand has, thus far, been lower than expected.
"We are therefore ramping up the availability of this testing and expanding who is eligible for testing and making it easier to access the tests."
Health secretary, Matt Hancock, also responded to Sir Keir’s questions, stating that: "We are ramping up our testing capacity and our capacity for contact-tracing in a matter of weeks, and we'll have it ready to make sure that we can use that as and when the incidence of transmission comes down."