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Engagements

Part of Prime Minister – in the House of Commons on 29th April 2020.

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Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman. On this issue of things getting worse, I understand the point that he wants to make about PPE—it is an absolutely valid point—but I do not think that it should be elided into the broader critique that overall things are getting worse. As we come through the peak of this virus, we start to get deaths down—we have to focus on driving them down even further, in particular making sure that we do not risk a second spike by increasing the transmission rate. The right hon. and learned Gentleman could take time to recognise our success on social distancing and critical care capacity, which has allowed that to happen.

On testing, we now have a 73,400 test capacity every day. That is almost double the point we were at when I was at the Dispatch Box last week. On daily tests carried out, the figure is now 43,563, which is well over double the 18,000 we were at last week. In relation to capacity and demand, when we and the NHS talk about demand, we are talking about the number of tests actually carried out; it is not just about people being willing to come forward, but about their actually being able to come forward. What we have done to ensure that we ramp up the testing as swiftly as possible is not just the extension and the widening of eligibility last week; we have gone further, and we now say that we will widen the eligibility to anyone who needs to go to work, says that they cannot work remotely and has symptoms. Anyone over 65 with symptoms will also be able to action those tests. To come back to the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s earlier point, tests will be available to all care home residents as well as staff, whether they are symptomatic or not.

This is incredibly important. We are on track to make huge progress. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is right that the 250,000 target is still an aspiration, and I am not going to put a date on it, but the key point is that the 100,000 milestone—very important to me, and we are making good progress—is only the first stepping stone towards testing, which is essential to the wider testing, tracking and tracing regime that we will need as we transition to the second phase.