Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now.
Downing Street has said the government is “doing our best” to hit its target of testing 100,000 people a day for coronavirus by the end of April.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care, just 19,316 tests were conducted on 19 April, while 501,379 tests have been conducted in total.
No.10 has said the government has the capacity to test 36,000 people a day.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has pledged to increase the number of tests conducted each day to 100,000 by the end of this month - just ten days away.
The Daily Telegraph reported this morning that one source, described as an “insider close to Downing Street”, believed Hancock’s target was “arbitrary” and irrational.
But Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said on Tuesday that ministers were “absolutely standing by the target” and confirmed the goal was to conduct 100,000 tests a day not simply to have the capacity.
“We have said throughout it is a government target and we are doing our best to hit it,” the prime minister’s spokesperson said.
They added the government was working on “increasing capacity” and “making sure that that capacity is used”.
This morning local government minister Simon Clarke said it was “highly unfair” to suggest the target for tests was not “empirically grounded”.
Clarke said it is “highly unfair” to suggest that the Government’s ambition to reach 100,000 tests by the end of the month is not “empirically grounded”.
He told LBC: “I can put my reputation on the fact that that’s our pledge and we are in a good position to go and meet it.”
The number of people who have died in UK hospitals after contracting coronavirus now stands at 16,509.
But the number of deaths linked to coronavirus in England and Wales up to April 10 was 41% higher than previously thought, new figures have revealed.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the total number of deaths up to April 10 stood at 13,121.
This is 3,833 more than those reported daily by DHSC. This is because ONS statistics include people dying outside hospitals whose death certificates mentioned Covid-19, and people where coronavirus is a suspected factor but a patient has not been tested.