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Coronavirus: Screening

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 6th April 2020.

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Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Chair, Health and Social Care Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many tests for covid-19 per day UK-based laboratories can carry out (a) now and (b) at peak capacity.

Photo of Nadine Dorries Nadine Dorries The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Holding answer received on 16 March 2020

The National Health Service with Public Health England (PHE) is undertaking a significant expansion of coronavirus testing, with enhanced labs helping the health service carry out 10,000 tests daily.

PHE has developed a highly sensitive test to detect the virus, one of the first countries in the world to do so, which has been rapidly rolled out to their regional labs across the country.

Approximately 1,500 tests are being processed every day at PHE labs with the great majority of tests being turned around within 24 hours. PHE has processed over 25,000 tests as of 10 March and has not exceeded capacity during this time.

As more people come forward to be tested, the NHS is now scaling up tests by 500%, with NHS England asking expert NHS laboratory services across the country to bring new capacity online, and other labs to begin checks, enabling 8,000 more samples to be analysed every day of the week.

As announced on 27 March, the Government is working with industry, philanthropy and universities to significantly scale up testing.

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