latest health care news

01.06.20

UK achieves 200,000 coronavirus testing capacity target

As the UK government continues to scale up its expansion of coronavirus testing capacity across the country, the target of 200,000 tests a day capacity has been achieved ahead of schedule, including capabilities to carry out 40,000 antibody tests a day.

The rapid expansion has led to the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities in the country’s history, with the capacity of NHS and Public Health England labs being more than doubled, over 150 drive-through and mobile testing units entering operation and new innovative testing solutions such as home testing kits and lab-based antibody tests have been introduced from scratch.

Additional testing capacity has allowed the rollout of the NHS Test and Trace system, aimed at identifying and isolating new cases of the virus, controlling its spread and helping to gradually and safely ease lockdown measures.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Reaching our 200,000 capacity target is an important milestone on our journey to control the spread of the virus, save lives and gradually ease lockdown.

“By rapidly expanding our testing capacity, we have been able to introduce NHS Test and Trace, and enabling those who have coronavirus symptoms to get a test is an important part of the programme.

“I want to thank and pay tribute to the incredible team who joined together in one of the greatest national mobilisations that we’ve seen. We brought together the best minds in the civil service, NHS, PHE, universities and the scientific community, the armed forces and private sector companies across the globe to reach this incredible achievement.

“This is by no means the end of our ramping up of testing. We will continue to build upon the tremendous work so far, exploring new technology and deliver even more test results.”

Alongside allowing NHS and social care staff increased access to rapid testing, the expansion of antibody testing capacity has also enabled information gathering to understand how the virus has previously spread.

Surveillance testing is also underway to develop a greater understanding of how the virus is moving through the population. So far, more than 250,000 surveillance tests have been carried out across the UK.

National Testing Coordinator Professor John Newton added: “The expansion of our testing capacity has allowed us to take important steps to control the virus, including the introduction of a world-class contact tracing service that will help us to safely ease lockdown over time.

“I am proud to say that anyone in the country who needs a test can get one, regardless of where in the country they are.

“We will continue to develop and grow our testing capabilities, to learn more about transmission of the virus and how it has previously spread.”

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