UK Government To Increase Number Of Coronavirus Home Testing Kits
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The UK government is to increase the number of coronavirus home testing kits, Matt Hancock announced at today's daily briefing.
The Health Secretary said the number of home testing kits to be issued by the end of this week would be 25,000 a day - up from 5,000 a day last Friday.
All over 65s with symptoms and their households, and also all workers who have to leave their homes and have symptoms, will be able to be tested.
Testing will be expanded to all care home residents and staff, regardless of whether they have Covid-19 symptoms.
Hancock said daily testing capacity now stands at 73,400, with the government previously having pledged to reached a daily capacity of 100,000 tests by the end of the month.
He said: "From construction workers to emergency plumbers, from research scientists to those in manufacturing, the expansion of access to testing will protect the most vulnerable and help keep people safe.
"It's possible because we've expanded capacity for testing thus far."
As of 5pm today (Monday), 21,678 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK - up 586 from yesterday.
This figure will jump sharply tomorrow though as the government will also be publishing the number of deaths in care homes and in the community as a whole, rather than just in hospitals.
He said: "This is something that wasn't previously possible. This will supplement the ONS and CQC weekly publication and all add to our understanding of how this virus is spreading day by day.
"Behind every single death is a family's heartbreak and we must do everything humanly possible to save as many lives as we can."
He continued: "We keep a close eye on it and I'm very glad we are now able to publish this daily data that will keep the focus on what is happening in care homes.
"I asked for that to start and I think we talked about it a week or so ago, and now we have that data being collected so we can focus on it day in, day out.
"My principle in this is to be as transparent as possible because then you find problems as quickly as possible and you can get in and address it."
When asked by a journalist if he would apologise over insufficient testing and PPE in care homes, Hancock said the question was unfair and that the government had been working on this since January.
He said: "It is something we have focused on right from the start."
Professor Angela McLean, the chief scientific adviser for the Ministry of Defence, said the latest data showed coronavirus hospital admissions and deaths in hospitals were decreasing.
She said: "It has been a particularly dramatic fall in London where the number of people in hospital peaked early compared with the rest of the country.
"Several other regions in England are clearly falling but there are a number of regions where numbers are still stable for now."