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Minister says UK ‘will either meet or come close’ to its COVID-19 testing target

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Robert Jenrick 'We have now seen a very substantial increase in testing in quite a short period of time,' said Mr Jenrick

The Government will meet or come close to the 100,000 tests per day target, according to Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick.

The official figures are expected to be released later today, but Mr Jenrick announced this morning that he felt the Government will ‘either meet the target or come close’. The aim of carrying out 100,000 tests per day by the end of April was set by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and latest figures show that on Wednesday, the day before the target, a total of 81,611 tests took place across the UK. Mr Jenrick went on to say that this target was ‘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’.

This announcement comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson reported that the UK was likely to be past the peak of infection and promised the creation of a ‘comprehensive plan’ for easing lockdown measures, to come next week.

However, the target has come under criticism from experts, with Professor Sheila Bird, previously of the Medical Research Council biostatistics unit, commenting that the push for rapidly increasing the number of tests ‘is leading to a reporting standard that makes the data almost uninterpretable’. She went on to say that focus should not just be on how many tests are done per day but on the breakdown of information reported. Currently, the lack of information on where tests are being carried out and on whom mean it is not possible to calculate prevalence rates in different groups, such as patients in hospital, key workers and the families of key workers. This is information that Professor Bird believes could be crucial for accurately assessing the status of the pandemic in the UK.

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