Coronavirus testing extended to all care home residents and staff as well as anyone over 65 with symptoms

All care home residents and staff can now be tested for coronavirus after Matt Hancock announced eligibility had been extended following a huge rise in the number of deaths at care facilities.

The health secretary said they will be able to get tested, whether they have symptoms or not, while anyone over-65 - and their households - will also be able to get tested if they have symptoms.

All those who have to leave home in order to go to work who have symptoms - and members of their households - will also be able to get tested.

Anyone who wants to be tested can apply for an appointment at or book at order a home testing kit to be delivered.

Tests at care homes will be carried out by mobile testing units, which are manned by the Army.

It means there are now 25 million people eligible to be tested, after the government previously extended eligibility to all key workers with symptoms.

Mr Hancock said eligibility had been extended due to an increase in daily testing capacity, which "now stands at 73,400".

He said the government is "ramping up" testing capacity every day to keep "on track" to meet its target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of April, which is just days away.

As part of that drive, the government has set up 41 driving test centres, with another "48 going live this week".

And home test capacity will be increased from 5,000 kits dispatched per day to 25,000 a day by end of the week.

But just 43,453 tests were carried out on Monday, more than 56,000 extra tests will need to be achieved before Friday.

After new statistics showed thousands more deaths had occurred in care homes than had previously been reported by the government, Mr Hancock said figures from the Department of Health would change.

He said daily death figures would now include "not just the number of deaths in hospital each day but the number of deaths in care homes and in the community too".

It comes after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) recorded 4,343 deaths of care home residents in England between April 10 to 24.

The ONS figures show there were 3,096 coronavirus-related care home deaths in England and Wales up to April 17.

Combined, more than 6,500 deaths involving coronavirus have occurred in England and Wales outside of hospital, the official figures show.

Mr Hancock, asked by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand whether care homes were now the priority in dealing with coronavirus, said: “Of course care homes have been a top priority right from the start.

“We’ve strengthened the rules around what happens in care homes and tightened infection control, also making testing available throughout the care centre I think is incredibly important as we’ve ramped up the availability of testing.

“We keep a close eye on it and I’m very glad we are now able to publish this daily data that will keep the focus on what is happening in care homes."

He defended the decision not to restrict access to care homes sooner.

Mr Hancock said: “The critical thing is that in a care home having visitors also has a positive impact both against the loneliness of the residents but also on their longevity and their mental health.

“So these are difficult judgments and there are no easy recommendations to make.

“We were guided by that clinical advice and when it was necessary to make that change, which is quite a firm change, then we did so.

“One of the things that has happened in this crisis is social care alongside the NHS have both been seen as these two absolutely vital parts of our society.”

The health secretary was speaking alongside Angela McLean, the chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence, and Professor John Newton, who is in charge of the government's coronavirus testing plans.