Coronavirus test capacity tops 200,000 one day ahead of schedule

The UK can now test more than 200,000 people for coronavirus per day, the Department for Health and Social Care has said.

A total of 205,634 tests were available on Saturday, a day earlier than the original target of 31 May.

This includes the capacity for 40,000 COVID-19 antibody tests a day which are currently available to NHS staff and care workers, to determine whether they have had the virus.

Live samples are held at the testing lab at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow

A system described as surveillance testing is also under way to develop a greater understanding of how coronavirus is moving through the population.

More than 250,000 surveillance tests have been conducted across the UK so far.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Reaching our 200,000 capacity target is an important milestone on our journey to control the spread of the virus, save lives and gradually ease lockdown.

“By rapidly expanding our testing capacity we have been able to introduce NHS Test and Trace, and enabling those who have coronavirus symptoms to get a test is an important part of the programme.

“I want to thank and pay tribute to the incredible team who joined together in one of the greatest national mobilisations that we’ve seen.

“We brought together the best minds in the civil service, NHS, PHE, universities and the scientific community, the armed forces and private sector companies across the globe to reach this incredible achievement.

“This is by no means the end of our ramping up of testing.

“We will continue to build upon the tremendous work so far, exploring new technology and deliver even more test results.”

Professor John Newton, national testing coordinator, added: “The expansion of our testing capacity has allowed us to take important steps to control the virus, including the introduction of a world-class contact tracing service that will help us to safely ease lockdown over time.

“I am proud to say that anyone in the country who needs a test can get one, regardless of where in the country they are.

Coronavirus tests, in less than an hour

“We will continue to develop and grow our testing capabilities, to learn more about transmission of the virus and how it has previously spread.”

The government said more than 150 drive-through and mobile testing sites have been set up to help achieve the target.

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