New Ventilators To Reach NHS 'Next Week', Says Michael Gove

Cabinet minister said "first of thousands" will roll off the production line this weekend as he admitted the UK must go "further and faster" in testing for coronavirus.

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The first batch of new ventilators will be delivered to the NHS to help frontline staff treat patients with coronavirus, Michael Gove has said.

Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street, the cabinet minister said the “first of thousands” would “roll off the production line” this weekend and be distributed to the frontline next week.

He warned that hospital admissions in England had reached 10,767 and was “increasing”.

He said: “I can announce that this weekend the first of thousands of new ventilator devices will roll off the production line and be delivered to the NHS next week.

“From there, they will be rapidly distributed to the frontline.”

Gove also said the UK was buying ventilators from EU nations to boost the number available to those suffering from the disease.

“We have just over 8,000 ventilators deployed in NHS hospitals now,” said Gove. “This number has increased since the epidemic began thanks to the hard work of NHS professionals, but we need more.

“That’s why we are buying more ventilators from abroad, including from EU nations.

“It’s also why we are developing new sources of supply at home.”

While the rate of coronavirus testing in the UK has increased, Gove said the UK must go “further and faster”.

“More NHS staff are returning to the frontline, and more testing is taking place to help those self-isolating come back, and to protect those working so hard in our hospitals and in social care,” he said.

“But while the rate of testing is increasing, we must go further, faster.”

He said a “critical constraint” on the ability to rapidly increase testing capacity is the availability of the chemical reagents, but that prime minister Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock – both of whom are self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19 – were working with companies worldwide to ensure the UK gets the material needed to increase tests “of all kind”.

Asked specifically about testing for NHS staff, he said again: “We are increasing the number of tests.

“One of the constraints on our capacity to increase testing overall is supply of the specific reagents, the specific chemicals, that are needed in order to make sure that tests are reliable.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the “first thousands” of new ventilators were set to reach the NHS next week. In fact, the cabinet minister said the “first of thousands” of new ventilators would be distributed.