Government Aims To Provide 100,000 Coronavirus Tests Per Day By End Of This Month
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced a new government target of 100,000 coronavirus tests per day in England by the end of this month, saying the pharmaceutical industry is 'rising to this challenge'.
Outlining a 'new national effort for testing', Hancock said in today's coronavirus press briefing: "I am now setting the goal of 100,000 tests per day by the end of this month. That is the goal and I am determined we will get there."
Hancock said the relatively low levels of testing so far was down to the UK's small diagnostics sector, compared to the likes of Germany.
He said: "We are determined to build a world-class diagnostics sector to fight this virus. We are starting from a lower base, but we are able to build something huge."
While Hancock said the government would be 'expanding testing for NHS staff further', he added many patients would remain the 'first priority'.
"I understand why NHS staff want tests so they can get back to the front line," he said.
"But the first priority has to be the patients for whom the result of a test could be the difference in treatment, the difference between life or death."
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He also announced that the government will be scrapping £13.4 billion of NHS debt, following reports last September that NHS trusts have been handing over more than £205 million a year to the Government in interest payments, having been forced to take out loans.
"Today to help NHS trusts [...] I can announce that I'm writing off £13.4 billion of historic NHS debt," Hancock said.
"It will ensure that our NHS has stronger foundations for the future too."
Today the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed the UK's death roll has now reached 2,921, up by 569 from 2,352 the day before.
As of 9am on 2 April, a total of 163,194 people have been tested - of which 33,718 tested positive.
UPDATE on coronavirus (#COVID19) testing in the UK:
As of 9am 2 April, a total of 163,194 people have been tested of which 33,718 tested positive.
As of 5pm on 1 April, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 2,921 have sadly died. pic.twitter.com/AbPp29Ijwv
- Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) April 2, 2020
He said in a press release this afternoon: "We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to the healthcare professionals who have responded to the 'Your NHS Needs You' call to arms to return to the front line and help the NHS tackle coronavirus.
"The response has been amazing so far, with thousands coming forward to help us overcome the biggest challenge our NHS has ever faced. Now even more nurses, midwives and doctors will have the opportunity to sign up and be supported to return.
"Every single health and care professional working on the front line is a hero, and with your help we will continue to support the vulnerable and save lives."
Featured Image Credit: PA