The Government is fully aware of the importance of testing as many people as possible.
The number of tests carried out throughout the country has been rapidly increased over the last six weeks, and the goal of 100,000 tests per day by the end of April was met. We will now go even further, and work to boost the capacity for testing in the UK to 200,000 daily tests.
As well as patients in hospital and care settings, regardless of whether they are currently displaying symptoms, tests are already available for NHS and care staff, including their families.
This allows our vital carers and healthcare workers to return to work without worrying about putting patients at risks if they, or a member of their family, start to show suspected symptoms, but then turn out not to be coronavirus. The Government has recently expanded the criteria so that NHS and care workers can now get tested even if they don’t have symptoms.
Thanks to the rapid increase in testing capabilities, everyone aged five and over who has coronavirus symptom is now eligible for a test. You can also apply on behalf of someone you live with, if they have symptoms. As you can imagine, demand for tests is very high at the moment, and people in hospital and essential workers such as NHS and care staff are rightly being prioritised.
The Government will also start offering antibody tests to health and care staff, eligible patients and care residents in England to see if they have had coronavirus, representing further progress in our national testing programme. The Government signed contracts to supply over 10 million tests from Roche and Abbott in the coming months. We will begin rolling these out in a phased way; prioritising our NHS and care staff, where there is a clear value in knowing who has had the virus.