Covid-19 Update

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:31 pm on 5th October 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 4:31 pm, 5th October 2020

The hon. Lady makes a really important case. First, as she implies, we obviously have to put the testing capacity into the areas with the biggest outbreaks to tackle those outbreaks. I think everybody understands that. At the same time, we have to increase testing capacity, and we are doing that. But thirdly, if an area has lower testing than another area, we have to make sure that we take that into account when we look at how serious the problem is. We do that in two ways. The first is the positivity rate—what proportion of tests come through positive—and the second is the survey data, particularly the Office for National Statistics survey, which shows that rates in London are higher than in some parts of the rest of the country, such as the south-west, the south-east and East Anglia, but not as high as in the midlands and the north of England, or indeed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We have to look at the surveys and the positivity, as well as the basic case rate.