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UK fails again to reach 100,000 tests a day mark as the country aims to establish its test, trace and isolate measures

By Scott Maclennan

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Environment minister George Eustice has revealed the UK has again fallen beneath the 100,000 tests a day target – reaching instead just 89,784.

News of the fall in testing comes as a further 545 people died in the UK after testing positive for Covid-19 – the total now stands at 35,341.

For the second time this a government minister reiterated the UK government’s road map out of lockdown with Mr Eustice outlining the Covid-19 alert system and the phased approach that is now in place.

However, with the falling number of tests completed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to deliver 200,000 tests by the end of this month looks more and more shaky.

However, Mr Eustice defended the government’s record on testing saying that at the start of the outbreak in the UK the priority was placed on testing NHS workers most likely to come into contact with the infection rather than communities.

Mr Eustice said: “We have been expanding, ramping up that capacity over the last couple of months, we got it 100,000 capacity by the end of April, we're continuing to build that this week.

“Matt Hancock has made clear that anybody over the age of five with symptoms can get a test and it is also the case that we recruited over 20,000 people to assist with contact tracing so that we can help track down infections or hot spots for this virus as we try to emerge from locked.

“I think it is the case that early on in this epidemic there was a priority to make sure people showing symptoms who work in the NHS because of the close proximity with patients had those tests so there was priority given to those.

“But we are now in a position to be able to offer testing to anybody over the age of five with symptoms and that is going to be quite crucial.”

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