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Coronavirus: Confusion as health minister admits government has not hit 10,000 a day target

An NHS worker being tested for coronavirus at a temporary drive through testing station in the car park of Chessington World of Adventures.

2 min read

A health minister has denied Michael Gove's claims that 10,000 coronavirus tests a day are being carried out in the UK.

Helen Whately confirmed that only around 7,000 took place in the last 24 hours - directly contradicting Mr Gove and her boss, Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

On Sunday, Cabinet Office minister Mr Gove told Sky News: "We have been increasing the number of tests and I can confirm today that the number of tests being carried out has hit 10,000 now - 10,000 a day."

Mr Hancock - who has tested positive for the coronavirus - then tweeted: "Good news that we’ve reached 10,000 #coronavirus tests a day - ahead of schedule. We’re on track to 25,000."

But appearing on Radio Four's Today programme on Monday morning, Ms Whately admitted that the Government had still not hit its target.

She said: "We’ve achieved the capacity to have 10,000 people a day tested. The actual number that were tested on the day in question I think were around 7,000.

"But within the next three weeks we expect to get to 25,000 tests a day."

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said the Government must clear up the confusion over how many tests in the UK are being carried out.

He said: "Experts continue to call for the UK to significantly ramp up testing. When Germany is testing around 500,000 people a week, many are asking why we are still not even hitting the 10,000 a day promised on 11 March.

"We called for enforced social distancing, but it is a blunt tool without a national strategy to test and contact trace.

"We call on ministers to outline why testing is still not being scaled up at sufficient levels and what bottlenecks domestically and globally are hindering this.”

Lib Dem health spokesperson Munira Wilson said "The fact that the Government have seemingly given inaccurate information regarding the number of tests carried out is not only misleading, but reckless.

"The Secretary of State for Health must come clean quickly. There needs to be an answer as to how this happened, as well as a commitment to ensure an incident such as this does not happen again."

The Government announced last week that it was ramping up the number of tests for NHS workers, to enable more to go back to work.

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