Boris Johnson Misses 24-Hour Turnaround Target For Covid-19 Tests

The PM had said his "ambition" was to get results within a day for most tests by end of June.

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Boris Johnson has missed his target of turning around most coronavirus tests within 24 hours by the end of June, new figures have confirmed.

The latest NHS Test and Trace statistics showed that at no point during last month was the “ambition” set by the prime minister reached.

Figures are issued on an average full-week basis, so although the target was not reached from June 25 to July 1, it was unclear until today whether it had been met on the actual day of the June 30 deadline.

But the latest figures for July 2 to July 8 confirmed the PM’s target was still being missed.

The 24-hour goal, set by Johnson for all tests other than posted home-testing kits, is seen as crucial to allowing contact tracers to chase up and stop people spreading the virus.

The government does, however, point to the fact that nearly nine in 10 “in person” tests at regional drive-through and mobile testing centres are achieving a one-day turnaround.

The latest figures show 88.8% of mobile units return results with a day, and 87.1% of drive-through units.


Home test kits, which are excluded from the PM’s target because of delays in the public posting them back, have a 24-hour turnaround for just 3.3% of tests. Satellite testing centres, used for care homes, have a one-day turnaround for 20.9% of tests.

The figures are much better for tests being completed by the end of the following day, itself seen by some in the NHS as an effective measure, with nearly 100% for drive-through and mobile test centres.

The NHS Test and Trace service also revealed it was still failing to reach nearly a quarter of people who test positive for the virus. Some 78.7% were reached and asked to provide details of recent close contacts, up slightly week on week.

In the week to July 8, some 13,807 people were identified as close contacts. Of these, 9,811 people (71.1%) were reached and asked to self-isolate, again a slight improvement on the previous week – but still short of the 80% figure recommended by government scientists needed to make the system effective.

Since the system started, 155,000 people who may have been at risk of unknowingly spreading the virus have been reached by the service and asked to self-isolate.

The department for health and social care said the data continues to show that “the majority” of those testing positive were reached by NHS Test and Trace to identify their contacts in less than 24 hours.

Some 96.4 % of people tested in-person at regional testing sites and mobile testing units received their tests the day after the test was taken.

In another major development, NHS Test and Trace revealed it was stopping with immediate effect the use of test kits produced by private firm Randox.

It said the kits may not meet its required safety standards for coronavirus testing.

“Alongside the Lighthouse Laboratories, NHS Test and Trace has a separate contractual arrangement with Randox laboratories. As a precautionary measure and while we investigate further, NHS Test and Trace are requesting that all settings pause the use of Randox test kits with immediate effect and until further notice,” it said.

The risk to safety is low and test results from previous Randox kits are not affected, it added.

Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace, Dido Harding, said: “Each week there have been sustained improvements in NHS Test and Trace to reach more people and help stop those who may have been in contact with the virus unknowingly passing it on.

“We have made testing and tracing quicker and more accessible, and we remain committed to develop the service further over the coming months.”

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