UK hits testing goal as COVID-19 deaths rise to 27,510
Publish- May 02, 2020, 11:20 AM
Xinhua/UNB - Xinhua/UNB
Passengers wearing face masks are seen at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain.Xinhua Photo
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Friday that the country has met the goal of 100,000 tests per day as another 739 people with novel coronavirus have died, bringing the total coronavirus-related death toll to 27,510 in Britain.
A total of 122,347 tests were carried out on Thursday, he told reporters during the Downing Street daily press briefing.
The strengthened testing capacity will facilitate virus tracking and tracing, which will help get infection rate down and "help lift lockdown measures", Hancock said.
"The testing capacity we've built will help every single person in this country," he said.
Hancock said the government plans to continue to expand capacity and a new lab will come on stream next week in Cambridge. "But we have to use testing capacity to focus on care homes to tackle the crisis in that setting," he said.
As of Friday morning, 177,454 people have tested positive for the disease, said Hancock.
Co-chairing the briefing, John Newton, co-ordinator of Britain's coronavirus testing program, said the country now has a flexible and substantial testing capability to tell how the virus is spreading inside Britain.
However, he reminded the public that the decision to enter lockdown was not linked to the lack of tests and access to limitless testing, even if Britain had had it, would not have made a difference.
"We can relax social distancing only when the five tests are met. That means getting the infection rate right down," said Newton.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday that there will be five key tests before Britain can ease the lockdown.
"First, we must be able to protect the NHS (National Health Service) and its ability to cope. Second, there must be a sustained fall in deaths. Third, the infection rate must be falling. Fourth, we must deal with the challenges of testing and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). And fifth, we must ensure that there is no second peak that could overwhelm the NHS," he said.
Johnson said the country is "past the peak" of the COVID-19 outbreak, with the numbers of hospital admissions and intensive care cases both falling and the number of deaths also stabilizing.
The prime minister said he will publish a "comprehensive" plan next week based on "how we can continue to suppress disease" while restarting the economy.