Government hits 500,000 a day testing target
Government has said that it has reached its target of having a capacity to carry out 500,000 tests per day. The goal, set in early summer this year, was due to be reached by the end of October and marks a significant expansion in the UK’s COVID-19 testing capacity. The data for 31 October showed just over 525,000 tests could be done - a doubling of capacity in two months.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the UK is now carrying out more tests than any other European nation and that a huge push will now be made to ensure that levels of people instructed to self-isolate by Test and Trace teams are doing so. Support payments of £500 have been introduced to encourage those on low incomes to isolate - figures suggest fewer than one in five people complete their self-isolation fully.
The capacity has risen due to the opening of further Lighthouse Labs (such as the newest in Newport at the start of October) along with the opening of extra space and incorporating new equipment at these sites. Around two-thirds of capacity for testing is provided at these Lighthouse Labs. Hospitals who carry out additional testing services have been allocated further resources to bolster and expand their role in the testing service infrastructure. Further tests are processed at universities and private labs. These account for most of the rest of the capacity with more than 100 different labs involved. Government says that it is natural that not all tests are being processed in relation to the capacity figures. They say there needs to be flexibility in the system to cope with surges in demand or problems occurring with equipment or staff, meaning labs are expected to work at around 80% of capacity.