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So much for 100,000 per day! Michael Gove blames the weekend as coronavirus testing falls to 76,500

So much for 100,000 per day! Michael Gove blames the weekend as coronavirus testing falls to 76,500 just 48 hours after the Government claimed victory in its fight to reach six-figure landmark by the end of April

The number of tests carried on fell sharply for the second day in a row today – the second successive fall since the Government beat its 100,000 target.    

Chairing today‘s press conference Michael Gove said there had been 1,206,405 coronavirus tests in the UK as of 9am on Sunday May 3, including 76,496 in the previous 24 hours.

This was down from 105,937 on Saturday and 122,347 the previous day.

Asked about this decline, Mr Gove said: ‘It is the case that you might expect over a weekend, particularly over a Saturday, with fewer people going to work, that you might have a dip in the amount of testing that might occur at that time.

‘But I don‘t think that it in anyway detracts from the amazing achievement of the NHS and of other sin so significantly increasing the amount of tests that are available.‘

However, data released by the Government today showed that while there have been fewer tests carried out at weekends, none has been such a marked fall of 28 per cent in a single day. 

Testing plays a key role, along with the track and trace system being devised, in allowing the lockdown to be lifted safely.

The UK announced 358 new coronavirus deaths today, bringing total fatalities to 28,491 and putting the country on course to become the hardest hit in Europe. 

On Friday  faced accusations of  fiddling the figures to hit his much-vaunted target for 100,000 coronavirus tests in a day. 

The Health Secretary faced claims he used postal tests yet to be completed and multiple checks on the same people to hit his six-figure milestone.

He used an appearance at the briefing this evening to bullishly claim success after setting the significant target a month ago, when tests were running at just 10,000 a day.

Appearing live on television tonight he emotionally told the watching nation there were 122,347 tests in the 24 hours to 9am, branding it an ‘incredible achievement‘ for the whole medical and scientific community.

But he faced a wave of condemnation as it became clear that the number appeared to only tell half the story. 

Figures posted online by the Government itself show that his questionable calculation included tens of thousands of tests kits that have been sent out to homes and hospitals – even though they have yet to be used, returned and processed. 

The head of the testing programme, Professor John Newton, confirmed tonight that around 40,000 of the total were kits that have been mailed out – suggesting 100,000 tests have not in fact been completed. 

The Prime Minister is expected to reveal his roadmap of proposals to very carefully and slowly lift the restriction in place since late March later this week.

The first easing of restrictions is not expected to come into force until June, and will be accompanied by the stricter enforcement of breaches of the remaining rules, with fines rising from the current £60 to more than £3,000 for repeat offenders. 

It will include a massive PR blitz urging people who cannot work from home to go in where they can safely, and urging key workers to send their children back to school to free them up for vital tasks.

Public transport will also increase, but will strict social distancing measures at stations and attempts to stagger working hours to reduce the rush hour.

Senior citizens could also lose their free travel during peak times to lower surge numbers further, the Sunday Times reported.

Trials of an NHS coronavirus tracing smartphone app are to start in the Isle of Wight this week, before being rolled out nationwide.

The NHSX app is part of the Government‘s test, track and trace strategy and will be central to its efforts in slowing the spread of coronavirus, alongside a massively expanded tsting regime.

tracing has been used extensively in South Korea, Hong Kong and Germany, where outbreaks have been contained more quickly.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said around 50 to 60 per cent of people will need to use the software for it to be effective as he described it as the ‘best possible way to help the NHS‘.

He stressed the app would be completely confidential but called it a ‘fantastic way‘ to ensure the country can ‘keep a lid‘ on coronavirus and prevent a second wave.

‘The idea is that we will encourage as many people to take this up as possible,‘ he said.

‘This is going to be a huge national effort and we need for this to work 50-60 per cent of people to be using this app.

‘Not everybody has a smartphone, and I appreciate that for various reasons not everybody will download it but it will be the best possible way to help the NHS.‘          

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