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Coronavirus testing level below Matt Hancock’s 100,000 target for fourth day in a row

The latest figures show that 69,463 tests for Covid-19 were carried out,

3 min read

The number of coronavirus tests carried out every day in Britain has fallen back below the Government’s 100,000 target, hours after Boris Johnson vowed to boost capacity further.

The number marks the fourth day in a row since the 100,000-a-day goal was surpassed in which testing levels have come in below the aim.

And it came as the UK’s death toll from Covid-19 passed 30,000, with an additional 649 people losing their lives since the previous update.

Speaking in the Commons earlier, Boris Johnson stood by a commitment to drive daily levels of testing - seen as a key part in lifting Britain’s coronavirus lockdown - above a quarter of a million.

He said: “The ambition clearly is to get up to 200,000 a day by the end of this month and then to go even higher. 

“A testing regime is going to be critical to our long-term economic recovery.”

The Prime Minister's spokesperson later said the "operational target" from Mr Johnson had referred to testing capacity, rather than the number of tests carried out - the measure for Mr Hancock's own aim.

A spokesperson for Labour’s Keir Starmer said: “We will hold him to that commitment and ask that the prime minister sets out a previous commitment to 250,000 tests a day.”

Meanwhile, Labour's Jon Ashworth said the government was “far from delivering" on its promise of 100,000 completed tests a day.

The Shadow Health Secretary added: “A test, trace and isolate strategy is crucial to tackling this virus.

“Ministers need to explain why the number of tests being completed daily is falling rather than rising.”

COMPARISON WARNING

The latest figures were revealed at the daily Downing Street press conference, where Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick and Public Health England’s Yvonne Doyle again urged caution on comparing Britain’s official death toll - now the highest in Europe - with other countries.

Mr Jenrick said: “There will be a time for that and we have already established the way in which we will measure that in due course, which is a measure of excess deaths. 

“But that is a hard calculation to do with accuracy today. Of course, we’ll want to learn whatever lessons we can do while we’re still responding to the virus. But I think the time for accurate international comparisons will come in the future.

Professor Doyle, PHE’s medical director, meanwhile said it would take “probably a year” before data on excess deaths allowed direct comparisons between countries hit by the virus - and urged the public to “give this some time”.

“They measured virus number of deaths in different ways. And that is absolutely fine, so long as that is consistent in each country,” she said. 

“It makes international comparisons very difficult, though, because we are not comparing like with like.”

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