BRITAIN needs to double its testing capacity to cope with the outbreak, the scientist in charge has said.
Official figures show 14,682 checks were carried out on Tuesday. But new testing czar Prof John Newton said it was not enough to tackle demand.
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He said three new mega-labs would soon help us hit the 100,000 daily checks target by the end of April.
Prof Newton told MPs growing numbers of NHS staff were being tested.
He added: “Our real priority is to get the tests out to other core services, such as care workers. If only because it would help us to use personal protective equipment we have more carefully.
“Police also have suspects in custody and they need to know if they are positive if they have symptoms.
“We could use double that capacity without any difficulty.
“Right now, we are not that far off, but we would love to have more.”
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He also admitted there is no chance the “game-changing” antibody test – which shows whether a person has had the virus and is now immune – will be rolled out this month.
Kathy Hall, director of Covid-19 testing strategy at the Department for Health, said she felt confident the 100,000-a-day target would be met.
It comes as British pharma giants AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline promised to churn out 30,000 daily coronavirus tests at a new mega-lab at Cambridge University within a month.
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