Coronavirus is currently running rampant in society – 33,718 have, so far, tested positive for the virus. But not everybody is being tested. What is Matt Hancock’s plan?
As of 9am on April 2, there have been 33,718 cases of confirmed coronavirus in the UK.
The testing procedure, at the moment, only includes those admitted to hospital.
Even the NHS frontline staff have had difficulty in having tests to determine whether or not they have the virus, are immune or haven’t had it at all.
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And, for the public staying at home – some with a mild infection – they won’t know for definite if they’ve had it or not.
Returning to Downing Street press conference, a week after self-isolation, Matt Hancock disclosed his “five-pillar” strategy to tackle the pandemic.
By the end of April, Matt Hancock has pledged to increase coronavirus testing to 100,000 a day.
This would include antigen tests, which show whether people are currently suffering from the virus and antibody tests.
Antibody tests determine whether people have had the infection and recovered, thereby having some immunity against SAR-CoV-2.
Hancock did state that testing patients were of a higher priority than NHS staff.
Explaining his decision, he said: “I took the decision that the first priority has to be the patients for whom the results of a test could be the difference in treatment that is the difference between life and death.
“I believe anybody in my shoes would have taken the same decision.”
The Health Secretary also announced that more than £13billon of historical debt owed by hospital trusts will be wiped clean.
He continued: “This landmark step will not only put the NHS in a stronger position to be able to respond to this global coronavirus pandemic, but it will ensure that our NHS has stronger foundations for the future too.”
Offering a candid view on the UK’s lacklustre testing facilities compared to other countries, such as Germany, he admitted that the UK has been “catching up”.
Speaking frankly about testing kits, Hancock stressed the importance of accuracy.
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He commented: “In one case, a test that I’m being urged to buy missed three out of four positive cases for coronavirus.
“That means that three-quarters of cases, that test would have given the false comfort of sending someone with coronavirus back on the wards.”
He then explained how this has had an impact on the availability of testing kits.
He said: “Approving tests that don’t work is dangerous and I will not do it.”
Mass public testing has been identified by Matt Hancock as something Britons will be waiting much longer for.
First, NHS patients are given testing priority, then critical NHS staff and their families.
After this, testing will expand to other key workers and, finally – after all of that – testing will be made available to the community.
The “five-pillar” plan is as follows:
- Accelerating Public Health England in-house testing to hit the 25,000 target.
- Using the private sector to buy up commercial swab tests.
- Roll out new antibody tests for immunity.
- Conduct a giant survey of the population.
- A call to manufacturers, inventors and commercial developers to assist the UK’s diagnostic capability.
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