BORIS Johnson has admitted that Britain DOESN’T have enough coronavirus tests to meet the spiralling demand.
The PM is having a grilling from top politicians from across the spectrum in a liaison committee.
He said that the Government would be setting out a list of who should get access to a test first, later today – as hundreds of people queued up to try and get their hands on tests.
The PM was asked this afternoon if there were enough tests to meet the current demand in the UK, and he replied frankly: “The short answer is no, we don’t.
“We don’t have the testing capacity. We would like to test everyone who wants a test.”
But he again committed to the promise of reaching 500,000 by the end of October – around 200,000 more than the current capacity.
He said he “hopes” that will be enough to meet the demand.
The Prime Minister told MPs: “Everything is being done that we possibly can to increase testing capacity.
“Testing capacity just in the last two weeks has gone up 10 per cent.”
Earlier minister Robert Buckland said that teachers would likely be top of the list after NHS and social care staff.
The PM also said:
- Recent coronavirus cases among people in their 20s are spreading to older people and deaths WILL rise
- The coronavirus inquiry would “look at everything that has gone wrong and gone right” but he refused again to say when it would start
- The civil service needed to be “faster and better” in future and he would “not be shy of reform” where it’s needed
- It was a “long way off” instant-result pregnancy-style tests which show whether someone has the virus within minutes
- He said he “didn’t want a second national lockdown” and the Government would do “everything in our power” to stop it
- Ministers will show “creativity and flexibility” in helping support the economy as the furlough scheme ends next month
Most of the new cases have been among teenagers aged 17 and 21 in the last week or so – but older people are getting infected too and it WOULD lead to more deaths.
He warned the nation: “The incidence amongst 18+ group is now 12 per 100k where only a few days ago it was about half that.
“It is growing, although the number of cases is obviously far smaller than it was in the spring.
“We must expect those infections proportionately to lead to mortality.”
More than 3,000 new cases were reported yesterday alone – a sharp spike from last week.
It led to the PM bringing in the new ‘rule of six’ earlier this week, banning gatherings of large numbers to try and bring the rates down.
BACK TO NORMAL
Theatres and large-scale football games will only be able to return when the UK has access to rapid coronavirus tests which tell if someone has it in minutes, the PM said today.
The first pilots for live games are set to take place this weekend, but many theatres are still operating at just a fraction of the capacity.
A second national lockdown would be unaffordable for the country, he admitted too, saying the Government would do everything they could to stop it again.
He promised the Government would show “creativity and flexibility” in providing support for the economy as the furlough scheme ends at the end of October.
And he said: “This government has done more than virtually any other government around the world to support people at risk of losing their jobs because of Covid.
“Going forward … we will continue to show great creativity and flexibility, which the Chancellor has shown, in trying to look after every sector of the economy.”
SCHOOL’S OUT – AGAIN
Around 11 per cent of kids were absent from school this week – partly over coronavirus fears.
And earlier today The Sun revealed that 740 schools have been forced to send kids home over the coronavirus testing shambles
Furious headteachers warned youngsters are being plunged into a second “lockdown by default” because of the crisis.
Steve Chalke, head of the Oasis Academies Trust schools chain, said he has been told 740 schools in England have been shut or sent kids home because of suspected Covid outbreaks – around three per cent of the total.
In some schools this includes several year groups being banished from the classroom.
He said today: “These are kids who have a mountain to climb after the schools shutdown – they have lost confidence.
“And now, just days after schools reopened they are being sent home again for two weeks.
“The Prime Minister says we have a moral duty to get all kids back to school, but sending them back is not the same thing as staying in school.”
A staggering 74 per cent of parents who needed a Covid test for their kid in the past fortnight said they struggled to get one, a snap poll from Netmums found.
The PM stressed today schools should not be sending everyone for a test if they did not have symptoms.
Only kids who have been showing a fever, new cough, or loss of taste or smell should enquire about a test.
He said it was understandable that “many people are getting a test to get released and continue their life in a normal way” but it meant that not everyone could get them if they really needed one.
The PM told MPs it was “vital” that “those in contact with someone… should only self isolate on the basis of a positive test “