Coronavirus: UK likely to be ‘very close’ to meeting COVID-19 testing target

The government will either meet its coronavirus testing target or be “very close”, a minister has told Sky News.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock had pledged that the UK would be conducting 100,000 tests for COVID-19 by the end of April.

Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus press conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said 81,611 tests had been carried out on Wednesday.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said Thursday’s figures would be released later.

“I think we will have either met it or be very close,” he told Sky News.

“In that sense the target will have succeeded because it will have galvanised people across government, in the private sector and across the country to build the network that we needed to, which is the foundation of testing, tracking and tracing, which we need in the next phase of fighting the virus.”

He added: “This in itself is just a stepping stone.

“We need to go beyond 100,000, but we have now seen a very substantial increase in testing in quite a short period of time.

“In that sense, it’s been a success. But there’s more to be done.”

Cabinet colleague Robert Buckland told Sky News on Thursday it was “probable” that the UK would not meet the target.

However, he did say the milestone would be hit in the “next few days”.

NHS Providers, which represents hospitals and NHS trusts in England, has previously said the target is a “red herring” which distracts from shortcomings in the long-term COVID-19 strategy.

Mr Buckland was speaking after the PM led his first daily coronavirus news conference in more than a month following his recovery from COVID-19.

Mr Johnson said the UK was past the peak of infections and promised to set out a “comprehensive plan” next week for how the lockdown could be eased.

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