Government misses 100,000 Covid-19 testing target for seventh day in a row

The Government has missed its key daily coronavirus testing target for the seventh day in a row.

But health leaders said that they expected “fluctuations” in the figures, and that testing was still much higher than it was at the start of the outbreak.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the daily Downing Street press briefing that 96,878 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 9am on Saturday.

HEALTH Coronavirus
HEALTH Coronavirus

It is the seventh consecutive day that the Government has failed to hit Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s 100,000 tests a day target, having met it on April 30 and May 1.

But deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said that not much could be read into day-to-day variations.

Speaking at the briefing, he added: “We are now really at a high plateau, in the region of 100,000 tests per day.

“There is some fluctuation, and quite frankly I expect there to be some fluctuation on a day-to-day basis.

“I don’t think we can read too much into day-to-day variations, but the macro-picture is this is now at a much, much higher level than it ever was at the beginning of this crisis.”

Coronavirus – Sat May 9, 2020
Coronavirus – Sat May 9, 2020

Prof Van-Tam also said that the test-and-trace strategy of finding people with the virus and tracking people they have been in contact with was part of the measures needed to ease the lockdown.

When asked if he agreed that new infections had to be down in the hundreds a day for the strategy to be effective when it is currently in the thousands, he said it was entirely appropriate for it to be part of the “overall measures” to tackle the virus.

Prof Van-Tam told the briefing that how extensive the strategy had to be depended on the level of disease in the population.

He added: “Those two together make a package of test and trace, and we have been very clear that test and trace on its own is part of the solution to how we continue to live with this virus after the lockdown.

“It is not the total solution.

“How extensive the test and tracing needs to be clearly depends on the level of disease in the population but it is entirely appropriate to see it as part of the overall measures that will give us more flexibility and more room as to what we can do in the social distancing space to ease things.

“But on its own it is a contribution, it is not a total solution.”