Government testing for coronavirus still a 'success' even if 100,000 target is not met, says minister

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said the Government will hit its 100,000-a-day coronavirus testing target ‘or be very close’. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA

The Government will hit its 100,000-a-day coronavirus testing target “or be very close”, a minister has said.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said he thinks Government testing for Covid-19 will have been a “success” even if the target of 100,000 tests is not met.

The deadline for hitting the target passed on Thursday but a time lag in reporting results means it will not be known until Friday whether the target was met.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to deliver an update on testing later, Mr Jenrick said.

Credit: PA Graphics

Mr Jenrick told Sky News: “I think we will either have met it or be very close, and in that sense the target will have succeeded because it will have galvanised people across government, in the private sector and across the country.

“This in itself is just a stepping stone; we need to go beyond 100,000, but we have seen now a very substantial increase in testing in quite a short period of time, so in that sense it’s been a success, but there’s more to be done.”

Mr Jenrick also told BBC Breakfast there is a definite need to increase testing past 100,000 per day – seen by many as a key route out of lockdown.

Regarding face masks and face coverings, the minister said the evidence showed they offer “modest benefits” but they might “be a way of giving us all more confidence in going about our business in a safe way”.

Following an indication from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday that the guidance on face masks will change, Mr Jenrick added that a mask “does not make a huge difference but it might make some”, adding that they may help people feel safer going to work.

Asked about household waste tips, Mr Jenrick said not all sites will reopen over this weekend but there is “no reason why you can’t travel to your tip to put your household waste there or do your recycling”.

He said councils are being urged to reopen them as soon as possible to prevent any more rubbish or recycling building up in people’s homes.

Credit: PA Graphics

It comes as a BBC poll of 1,000 people found that more than 60% would be uncomfortable about going out to bars and restaurants or using public transport should ministers decide to relax the lockdown.

More than 40% would still be reluctant to go shopping or send their children to school and more than 30% would be worried about going to work or meeting friends.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know