Coronavirus testing drops to 76,496 in a day, Michael Gove confirms

Coronavirus testing dropped to 76,496 on Saturday, well below the 100,000 daily target set by the government.

On Friday, Matt Hancock announced that they had surpassed their target, as over 122,000 tests were carried out on April 30.

The drop could be put down to the fact that fewer people work Saturdays, meaning not as many tests were required.

"You will see that testing capacity has ramped up very quickly over the last week or so and we are now at a very high level of testing," Professor Steve Powis said.

"Over 100,000, a little bit of a dip in the weekend but we anticipate that that testing capacity will continue to increase. It's a very important component of our approach going forward."

Mr Gove praised Mr Hancock’s “amazing success in increasing testing”, which he said means the public will have “greater confidence” in the Government as they move into the next phase of lockdown.

“The British public have shown amazing stoicism and understanding of the need for the lockdown measures,” he said.

“Quite rightly they want to make sure that if and when they are eased, they’re eased in way that makes sure the British people’s sacrifice has been worthwhile, and that we continue to operate in a way that means public health comes first.

“And that’s why it’s so important that we consult with employers and trade unions, to make sure that people understand the guidance about working safely.”

He said the Government will pursue a “phased approach” to removing lockdown restrictions rather than a sudden return to “the old normal”.

Mr Gove said more than 200,000 key workers and their families had been tested for coronavirus.

He said criteria for testing had been extended beyond key workers to anyone over 65 displaying symptoms and anyone who has to travel to get to work.

Mr Gove said that this week the Government will be piloting new “test, track and trace procedures” on the Isle of Wight, with a view to having them in place more widely later this month.

Asked about the app, Mr Gove said: “When it comes to contact tracing, the more people who download the app that’s been developed by the NHS the better.

“There are some 80,000 households on the Isle of Wight, and obviously we’d like to see more than half of households, if we can, sign up to the app.”

Professor Powis said: “It is likely to be one component of a number of measures that will be needed.

“I would think it’s unlikely that on its own it is going to be the single measure or the single intervention that will ensure that the virus is always under control.

“There will need to be contact tracing in the way we’ve always done contact tracing, so people following leads as to who you’ve contacted.

“That’s exactly why Public Health England are recruiting many thousands of people to help with contact tracing.

“And it will need to sit aside other measures that we have become used to, such as if you are symptomatic and if you have the virus and if you test positive you will need to stay at home for a period.

“So it is one component. The more people who download it and use it the likely the bigger contribution it will make, but it will not, I doubt, be the single contribution.”

Boris Johnson is set to announce plans of how the country will begin to exit the lockdown stage at some point next week.

Mr Gove said: “We’ve all learned to adapt, and we must carry on doing so after the Prime Minister sets out how we will get back to work later this week.

“His comprehensive plan will explain how we can get our economy moving, how we can get our children back to school, how we can travel to work more safely, and how we can make life in the workplace safer.

“But before we can ease the existing restrictions we must ensure the government’s five tests are met – that the number of cases are falling, that death rates are declining, that the NHS has what it needs, and that measures are in place to stop a second peak overwhelming the NHS.”

He said he is “particularly conscious” that those in the frontline of our public services will need “clear guidance on safe working”.

He added: “They’ll need the right personal protective equipment and appropriate access to testing if we are to make all the progress that we want in the weeks ahead.

“We’re consulting with employers and unions, professionals and public health experts, to establish how we can ensure that we have the safest possible working environments, and the Prime Minister will be saying more later this week.”

  • Coronavirus: Everything you need to know