Politics

Coronavirus: Questions over testing as minister claims UK is ‘right at the top of the league table’

A government minister has defended the UK’s coronavirus testing regime following growing calls for the country to hugely expand its programme.

Health minister Helen Whately told Sky News the country is “right at the top of the league table” for COVID-19 testing – despite admitting countries such as South Korea and Germany have conducted a much greater number of tests.

Former prime minister Tony Blair and ex-health secretary Jeremy Hunt have both called on the government to undertake mass testing for COVID-19 as the UK battles the disease.

They both cited countries such as South Korea and Germany, whose response to coronavirus has been praised due to their high level of testing.

Germany is estimated to now be conducting as many as 500,000 tests per week to determine whether people have coronavirus.

The World Health Organisation has previously called on national governments to “test, test, test” as the “backbone” of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock claimed on Sunday the UK had reached 10,000 tests a day, which he added was ahead of schedule as the government works towards conducting 25,000 tests a day.

Public Health England said the latest figure for the daily number of COVID-19 tests conducted is 9,114, a figure which was accurate as of 9am on Saturday.

Ms Whately told Sky News the government is “increasing the volume of tests” with an aim to reach the 25,000 a day target – for people with symptoms of coronavirus – within the next three weeks.

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