Government fails to meet target of 25,000 coronavirus tests per day by mid-April

The government has failed to meet its own target of carrying out 25,000 coronavirus tests per day by mid-April, falling short by more than 5,000.

In the 24 hours up to 9am on Tuesday, just 14,982 tests were carried out - despite there being capacity for 19,000 - Boris Johnson's spokesman has said.

He claimed "testing capacity is increasing all of the time" and that the 100,000-tests-a-day target by the end of the month remained in place.

But at the start of April, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick set a target of 25,000 a day by the middle of the month.

"We think within days we will be able to go from our present capacity of 12,750 to 15,000, so that's a significant increase but still not as far as we'd like it to be, then mid-April is when we expect to be at 25,000," he told Sky News.

With 30 days in April, the 15th of the month is the mid-way point, yet the target has still not been reached.

Despite failing to reach the previous target, the prime minister's spokesman said the "overall commitment remains the same, which is to achieve 100,000 tests by the end of the month".

Earlier Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “determined” to ensure that everyone needing a test should have access to one, with testing remaining a “key” part of the Government’s coronavirus battle plan.

Mr Hancock said: “I am deeply conscious that people in residential care are among the most vulnerable to coronavirus. We are doing everything we can to keep workers, residents and their families safe.

The government says its testing capacity is Credit: PA

“We have already begun testing social care workers and will roll this out nationwide over the coming days. And as we continue to ramp up our testing programme, we will test all current care home residents with coronavirus symptoms and all new care home residents who are discharged from hospital into care.”

Meanwhile, two people were arrested by fraud detectives on suspicion of "selling fake coronavirus testing kits".

Officers arrested a 46-year-old pharmacist from Croydon, south London, and seized around £20,000.

He was arrested for allegedly making false and misleading claims about the tests’ capability.

In another investigation, a 39-year-old surveyor from Uxbridge, west London, was stopped while driving his car.

Officers found 250 coronavirus testing kits. He was also arrested for making misleading claims about the capability of the tests.

He told investigators he was planning on selling the kits to construction workers. He was released on conditional bail.

The PM’s spokesman also said an overall total of 54,000 NHS staff and relatives have been tested for Covid-19 since the outbreak began.

NHS England staff absence rates due to coronavirus stand at 5% for doctors and 8.4% for nurses, down from Monday when the figures were 5.3% and 8.6% respectively.

The spokesman said 3,300 care home workers have been invited to be tested.