Number 10 defends coronavirus test for Michael Gove’s daughter as he has ‘central role’ in UK response
Michael Gove has been in isolation after his daughter displayed coronavirus symptoms.
3 min read
Downing Street has defended the decision to rapidly test Michael Gove’s daughter for the coronavirus, saying the Cabinet minister plays a “central role” in Britain’s response to the pandemic.
Mr Gove went into isolation last week after his daughter first displayed symptoms of the virus.
But the Cabinet Office minister came under scrutiny after he was pictured jogging this weekend, despite government guidance saying any person who lives with someone showing signs of the deadly disease should not leave home for 14 days.
It later emerged Mr Gove’s daughter had been tested for the virus and received the all-clear in the middle of last week, allowing her father to leave isolation.
A source close to the Cabinet minister told the Daily Mail that the test had been sanctioned by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.
They told the paper: “He sought the CMO's advice about what he should do at the suggestion of officials given he's one of the Cabinet ministers leading the Covid-19 response.
“On Monday, the CMO advised that Michael's daughter should be tested after displaying mild symptoms.
“She was tested on Tuesday and the result came back negative on Wednesday afternoon, at which point the household isolation rules no longer applied to the family.”
The Prime Minister's official spokesman has defended the decision to test Mr Gove’s daughter, pointing to his key role in the Government’s coronavirus fight.
He said: “The test was carried out on the advice of the CMO and in line with medical guidance.
“The minister in charge of the Cabinet Office is a central role in the coronavirus response.
“Testing a member of the household ensures that Michael Gove could get back to work to drive forward the Government’s response at a critical time.”
However, the move comes amid criticism of the speed at which testing for the coronavirus is being rolled out to frontline NHS staff.
Asked whether there was a risk of double standards at a time when some frontline workers are still awaiting tests, the spokesman said: “No. And as I say that was done on the advice of the chief medical officer.
“The Prime Minister received a test when he was suffering from symptoms as did the health secretary.
“Clearly, the three ministers which we’re talking about all perform critical roles.”
Number 10 said a total of 42,812 NHS staff and their families had now been tested in total, a number it said marked “significant progress on where we were little over a week ago”.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has vowed to ramp up testing for coronavirus to 100,000 per day by the end of April, and Number 10 on Monday insisted the figures were heading “in the right direction” two weeks into the month.
The latest daily testing figures show that 18,000 are now being carried out across the UK, excluding Northern Ireland.
Twenty-three drivethrough testing sites are now in operation across the country, Downing Street said, with more than 2,500 of the tests for NHS staff being carried out by private companies working with the health service.
A spokesperson said: “New capacity is coming on stream all of the time and I think we are making good progress.
"The target is to have 100,000 tests by the end of the month and that’s what we’re working to deliver."
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