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Boris Johnson admits UK must 'massively ramp up' coronavirus testing as pressure mounts on ministers

The UK is lagging behind most other countries in the number of tests it is carrying out.

2 min read

Boris Johnson has admitted that the Government must "massively ramp up" the amount of coronavirus tests it is carrying out amid mounting criticism of its performance.

The Prime Minister said that was the only way to "unlock the puzzle" of the outbreak and finally bring it under control.

He spoke out as opposition parties piled pressure on the Government to dramatically increase the number of tests for the virus being carried out across the country.

Ministers insist the UK will be carrying out 25,000 tests a day by the middle of April, but that is way behind the 500,000 a week being done in Germany.

At the daily Downing Street press conference on Wednesday, Business Secretary Alok Sharma repeatedly failed to set out how the Government planned to boost the number of tests.

Withing hours, Mr Johnson - who is in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 - posted a video on Twitter insisting the problem was being addressed.

Speaking on the day it was confirmed that a fiurther 563 people in the UK had died from the disease, taking the total to 2,352, the PM said: "I want to say a special word about testing because it is so important, and as I have said before, this is the way through.

"This is how we will unlock the coronavirus puzzle. This is how we will defeat it in the end.

"What we need to do is massively ramp up not just tests so that you can know whether you have had the disease in the past, the so-called anti-body test, because that will enable you to go to work in the confidence that you can't be infected or be infectious.

"Second, people need to know whether they haven't got it, rather than isolating themselves at home for no reason, and that's very important above all for our NHS staff.

"And of course it's crucial that people who do have the disease are able to be tested positive and take the necessary steps to isolate at home in the way that I am doing and many, many others are doing as well."

Labour called on the Prime Minister to publish a "national testing strategy" setting out how the Government planned to hit its testing targets.

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said: "We still don’t have the clarity we need from Ministers on how they plan to rapidly scale up testing to the levels needed.

"Many are asking why we’re still not doing 10,000 tests a day when countries like Germany have increased testing by huge volumes."

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