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Boris Johnson’s 200,000-a-day coronavirus testing capacity target reached a day early

Boris Johnson unveiled the pledge at the start of May.

2 min read

The Government’s target of building capacity for 200,000 coronavirus tests a day has been reached a day early, ministers have announced.

The latest figures from the Department for Health and Social Care, covering Saturday, show that 205,634 tests were available, including 40,000 antibody tests for NHS and care staff.

Boris Johnson announced at Prime Minister Questions on May 6 that he wanted to up Britain’s testing capacity to “200,000 a day by the end of this month and then to go even higher”.

The move followed a high-profile push to ensure that 100,000 tests a day could be carried out by the end of April.

Hailing the new data, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "Reaching our 200,000 capacity target is an important milestone on our journey to control the spread of the virus, save lives and gradually ease lockdown.

"I want to thank and pay tribute to the incredible team who joined together in one of the greatest national mobilisations that we've seen.

"This is by no means the end of our ramping up of testing. We will continue to build upon the tremendous work so far, exploring new technology and deliver even more test results.”

Professor John Newton, the UK’s national testing coordinator, meanwhile said: “The expansion of our testing capacity has allowed us to take important steps to control the virus, including the introduction of a world-class contact tracing service that will help us to safely ease lockdown over time. 

“I am proud to say that anyone in the country who needs a test can get one, regardless of where in the country they are.
“We will continue to develop and grow our testing capabilities, to learn more about transmission of the virus and how it has previously spread.”

The Department of Health said the capacity had been bolstered by a “new network of diagnostic facilities”, including home testing kits, drive-through sites and mobile testing units. 

The figures show that 115,725 tests were carried out on May 30.

However, the Government has not published figures on the numbers of people tested for Covid-19 for several days, with Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran saying people remained “desperate for reassurance that the right testing and tracing measures are in place to keep ourselves and our NHS safe“.

She added: “In order to trace effectively and exit lockdown safely, the Government need to meet testing targets and have the NHS [contact tracing] app ready to roll out nationwide.“

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