Updated: Apr 3, 2020
Health secretary, Matt Hancock, has set the government a new target of carrying out 100,000 Covid-19 tests a day in England by the end of April.
It comes after the government was criticised for not increasing the number of tests earlier. Currently, there are around 10,000 tests being carried out a day.
Another 569 people have died in the UK after contracting Covid-19 - bringing the total number of deaths to 2,921.
It was originally thought the target would be for the whole of the UK, but the government later issued a correction saying the goal will only be for England.
Mr Hancock said that the country would hit 100,000 tests a day, which would include antigen tests that show whether people are currently suffering from Covid-19, as well as antibody tests to see whether people have had the infection and recovered.
Hancock, who tested positive for coronavirus and was in quarantine for seven days said: “I’m now setting the goal of 100,000 tests per day by the end of this month. That is the goal and I’m determined we’ll get there.”
On Tuesday, there was capacity for 12,799 daily tests in England, although just over 10,650 people were tested. The government’s target by mid-April had been to test 25,000 a day.
Hancock said it was his decision to prioritise testing of patients over NHS staff, and added that he thought any health secretary would have done the same.
The government is considering issuing immunity certificates to those shown to have had the virus - but Mr Hancock added that it was "too early in the science" to give further details.
The government has announced that it is writing off £13.4bn of historic NHS debt, so that hospital trusts are in a "stronger position" to deal with the outbreak.
In a detailed press conference following several days of criticism of the government’s strategy, Hancock also attempted to confront claims that the UK is lagging behind the responses to the disease in other European countries such as Germany.
Latest figures show 163,194 people in the UK have been tested for the virus, of which 33,718 are confirmed positive.
Global number of confirmed cases passes one million
Meanwhile, more than a million cases of coronavirus have been recorded globally, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.
Nearly 53,000 people have died and more than 210,000 have recovered, according to the US university's figures. The US has the most cases, and more than 1,000 died there in the past day. #coronavirus #Covid19 #UK #England #MattHancock #US #Hopkins