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Health secretary lays out plans for 100,000 coronavirus tests a day

As of this morning – Friday April 3 – the current recorded case count for COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the UK has hit 33,718, with 2,921 deaths.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has unveiled an ambition to ramp up testing for coronavirus so that around 100,000 tests a day are carried out in England.

Increased testing for the NHS will be part of a new five-pillar plan, bringing together government, industry, academia, the NHS and many others, to “dramatically increase” the number of tests  carried out daily.

Professor John Newton, director of Health Improvement at Public Health England, has been appointed to help meet the testing target, by co-ordinating a national effort to encourage global manufacturers to expand manufacturing capacity in England and domestic companies to focus on creating and rolling out mass testing at scale.

The health secretary also confirmed that the government will support anyone with a scalable scientific idea or innovation to start a business.

The five-pillar plan aims to:

  • Scale up swab testing in PHE labs and NHS hospitals for those with a medical need and the most critical workers to 25,000 a day by mid to late April;
  • Deliver increased commercial swab testing for critical key workers in the NHS, before then expanding to key workers in other sectors;
  • Develop blood testing to help know if people have the right antibodies and so have high levels of immunity to coronavirus;
  • Conduct surveillance testing to learn more about the spread of the disease and help develop new tests and treatments; and
  • Create a new National Effort for testing, to build a mass-testing capacity at a completely new scale.

Once widespread testing is available, the government intends to prioritise repeated testing of critical key workers. There is also to be an increasing focus on testing to determine if people have already had the virus, and if they have the antibodies that will give them immunity against catching it again.

Wash your hands frequently:

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

Maintain social distancing:

Maintain at least two metres (six feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early:

Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

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