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28Oct

COVID-19 testing capacity ramped up as Government chases 500k target

The UK’s coronavirus testing capacity has increased through Pillar One as the country expands its testing capabilities in the midst of a second wave of the virus. Government has confirmed that testing capacity has increased by nearly 20% this week, this is thanks to a boost in capacity at Public Health England laboratories working within Pillar One of the Government’s testing strategy. PHE labs are currently processing coronavirus test results from NHS staff, patients and care home workers. The news of an increased testing capacity will come as good news for ministers who are making a final push this week to achieve the Government’s target of carrying out 500,000 coronavirus tests per day by the end of October.

The growth in capacity suggests it may soon be possible to test all doctors and nurses for coronavirus at least once a week even if they do not have symptoms, which experts have pinpointed as a key route to suppressing the growth of the virus. The daily Pillar One capacity now stands at 136,112. This suggests that, with nearly a million tests available each week, it may soon be possible to test every doctor, nurse and ambulance staff weekly to ensure none of them is inadvertently spreading COVID-19 in hospital or care home settings.

A source close to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Independent newspaper that “the plan was always to have a big push towards the end of the month, so we’re confident it will be reached.” The UK Government’s testing system for coronavirus is one of the largest in the world, however, there have some setbacks to the programme in ramping up capacity and test miscounts. Ministers continue to work on the “Moonshot” project which seeks to administer millions of quick-turnaround tests every day allowing people to resume ordinary life without fear of passing the virus on to others. 

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