• Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government had met its target to carry out 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of April after 122,347 tests were performed in the 24 hours up to 9am on Friday.

Mr Hancock heralded the expansion in testing beyond 100,000 a day as an “incredible achievement”.

He said: “I knew that it was an audacious goal, but we needed an audacious goal, because testing is so important for getting Britain back on her feet.

“I can announce that we have met our goal. The number of tests yesterday, on the last day of April, was 122,347.

“This unprecedented expansion in British testing capability is an incredible achievement, but it is not my achievement, it is a national achievement.”

The Health Secretary said that the testing capacity built would “help every single person in this country”.

He said testing is “crucial to suppress the virus” and would “help us to unlock the lockdown”.

The next steps, according Mr Hancock, will be to put the testing focus on care homes in order to tackle the virus there.

Mr Hancock said the teams who increased capacity, had “joined in one of the greatest national mobilisations we’ve seen”.

He added: “Setting stretching, ambitious goals in a crisis has a galvanising effect on everybody involved. It is a mission.

“If we hadn’t been so bold, if we’d chosen a safer, easier path, I just can’t see how we would have built the capacity that we need.”

The announcement came as it was confirmed a total of 27,510 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider communityafter testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Thursday, up by 739 from 26,771 the day before.

But questions have been raised over how the tests have been counted, with changes in the last few days meaning newer home test kits have been counted as they are dispatched.

The overall total also includes tests dispatched to “satellite testing locations” – such as hospitals that have a particularly urgent need – but does not detail whether the tests have actually been used.

When he set the target, Mr Hancock said the UK “will carry out” 100,000 tests every day by the end of April.

The Government’s national testing co-ordinator, Professor John Newton, told reporters there had been “no change” to the methodology but said advice had been sought on counting as “new ways of delivering tests” were brought in.

He said: “There has been no change to the way that tests are counted.

“As we’ve developed new ways of delivering tests we’ve taken advice from officials as to how this should be counted.

“So, the tests that are within the control of the programme, which is the great majority, are counted when the tests are undertaken in our laboratories.

“But any test which goes outside the control of the programme, they’re counted when they leave the programme, so that is the tests that are mailed out to people at home and the tests which go out in the satellite.

“So that is the way they are counted, have always been counted, and the way we were advised to count them by officials.”

He said some 27,497 kits sent out to homes were included in the total alongside 12,872 tests delivered to satellite locations.

Guidance on the Government website appears to have changed on April 28 to include wording saying home tests and satellite tests were being included.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Labour has repeatedly called for more testing, and increasing testing is an important milestone.

“But many would have expected the 100,000 promise to have been met by actually carrying out testing, not simply because 39,000 kits had been mailed out.

“The headline figure shouldn’t count tests that hadn’t been used, or indeed, might never be used as a completed test.

“Ministers promised transparency – the public and NHS staff deserve clarity.”

A testing being carried out. Credit: PA

Mr Hancock said the next phase will allow the Government “to reassert, as much as is safely possible, the liberty of us all”.

Mr Hancock said: “In recent weeks we’ve had to impinge on historic liberties to protect our NHS and our loved ones and yet our goal must be freedom. Freedom from the virus, yes, and we will not lift measures until it is safe to do so.

“But also we care about the restoration of social freedom and economic freedom too – each citizen’s right to do as they please.

“For now, we’re working together to stay home, we’re impinging on the freedom of all for the safety of all.

“With this next mission of test, track and trace, I’m seeking a solution that allows us, by each of us participating, to target the measures that are needed with much more precision and so to reassert, as much as is safely possible, the liberty of us all.

“That is our next mission. But for now the most important thing for everyone to do to keep R down and to get us all through is to retain the spirit and resolve that has had such an impact thus far.”

The daily testing stats.

Mr Hancock said the next phase will allow the Government “to reassert, as much as is safely possible, the liberty of us all”.

Mr Hancock said: “In recent weeks we’ve had to impinge on historic liberties to protect our NHS and our loved ones and yet our goal must be freedom. Freedom from the virus, yes, and we will not lift measures until it is safe to do so.

“But also we care about the restoration of social freedom and economic freedom too – each citizen’s right to do as they please.

“For now, we’re working together to stay home, we’re impinging on the freedom of all for the safety of all.

“With this next mission of test, track and trace, I’m seeking a solution that allows us, by each of us participating, to target the measures that are needed with much more precision and so to reassert, as much as is safely possible, the liberty of us all.

“That is our next mission. But for now the most important thing for everyone to do to keep R down and to get us all through is to retain the spirit and resolve that has had such an impact thus far.”

Additionally, Mr Hancock said NHS fertility services can now be resumed after the UK passed through the peak of the coronavirus crisis.

Sharing some “really good news” at the Downing Street press conference, he said: “Earlier this week I said that we are now able to bring the restoration of NHS services.

“Few families have been untouched by the amazing advances in fertility treatments over the past generation and I know just how time-sensitive treatment can be and how important it is for the families affected.

“And I know that this treatment can change lives for the better forever. So when I say thank you for all of you, everybody watching, for staying at home to protect the NHS of course I’m saying thank you on behalf of the lives that you’re saving.

“But I’m also saying thanks on behalf of the lives that the NHS can now once again help to create.”

Asked whether parents would be fined for not sending their children to school when learning centres are re-opened, Mr Hancock vowed the Government would only allow pupils to return when it was safe to do so.

Facing a question from the public, he said: “We are not going to re-open schools if it isn’t safe.

“Of course, as and when we re-open schools, our goal is to get back to the norm and the position as it was before.

“I’m confident, because we’ll only do it when it is safe, it will at that point be entirely reasonable and normal again to send your children to school.”

Prof Powis added: “The science is still evolving in terms of transmission between children, so we do need to be cautious as we think of re-opening schools and we will need to think carefully and advise the Government with appropriate information about how that can happen.”

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