Coronavirus targets: Is the UK hitting its targets in COVID-19 fight?

The Government has brought in unprecedented measures in the battle to stop coronavirus, with varying degrees of success. Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted in his speech yesterday the Government would be building on its “current success” as the UK moves towards phase two of eradicating coronavirus. But is the Government actually hitting the targets it makes?

25,000 tests a day by the middle of April

On March 18 Boris Johnson said: “We will massively scale up our testing capacity in the weeks ahead so we hit 25,000 tests a day.”

The Government did not hit 25,000 tests a day by mid-April.

Only 15,994 tests were conducted in the UK, excluding Northern Ireland, in the 24 hours to 9am on April 15.


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100,000 tests per day by the end of April

On April 2, Matt Hancock set the goal of 100,000 coronavirus tests per day by the end of April.

He said: “I am now setting the goal of 100,000 tests per day by the end of this month – that is the goal and I am determined that we will get there.”
By April 23, testing had reached 51,000 per day.

However, it would be nothing short of a miracle for 100,000 tests to be reached by Thursday.

Mr Hancock has suggested not all of the tests are being used because of a “lack of demand” from NHS and other key workers.

But the bodies which represent them have reported problems accessing tests, with more demand than is available.

Devolved administrations in Wales and Scotland similarly made pledges on how much testing would take place.

Vaughan Gething, Health Minister for Wales, announced the Welsh Assembly were abandoning their promise of conducting 5,000 tests a day by mid-April, citing issues with obtaining testing kits.

Likewise, Nicola Sturgeon admitted last week that Scotland was unlikely to achieve its original target of 10,000 tests per day by the end of April.

She said: “We are working towards a capacity of 3,500 by the end of April.”

50 regional testing centres

Matt Hancock said: “We are working with Boots and other partners to set up over 50 regional test centres around the country by the end of April.”

Out of the 50 promised, 43 regional test centres were operational by April 27.

The “drive-through” test centres, which are only for NHS and other key workers, are run by Boots and other commercial providers.

There is also one walk-in centre run out of the Nightingale Hospital in London.

A DHSC spokesperson confirmed to the BBC they “expect 50 drive-through sites opened by the end of the month”.

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Expanding NHS capacity

On April 17 Matt Hancock said the Government would be “making sure that the NHS always has the capacity to treat patients.”

The Government has managed to meet its objective this time.

It appears that the NHS is managing to cope with the high number of cases the UK is facing, with the addition of several Nightingale field hospitals providing thousands of extra beds.

The Government has said that nobody in need of critical care has been unable to get it due to a lack of beds or equipment.

Care home PPE

On March 25, Boris Johnson was asked in parliament when “every single person” working in care homes around the country would get the personal protective equipment (PPE) they needed.

He replied: “The answer is by the end of this week.”

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. In early April, Nadra Ahmed, from the National Care Association, said: “The issue we hear most is: ‘I am desperate for masks. Has anyone got any gloves? I am down to my last stock.’

“Once you run out, it is a question of being down to Marigolds and bin liners.”

According to those working in the care home sector, the situation has improved more recently but is far from being resolved.

PPE has remained a problematic issue throughout the crisis, with consistent supply proving difficult to procure.


Matt Hancock said on April 5: “Our goal, instead of the 30,000, is that we need 18,000 ventilators over the coming two weeks.”

So far, the Government has made 10,900 mechanical ventilators available for the NHS.

Matt Hancock’s 18,000 target was for this type of ventilator, according to the DHSC.

The original UK target had been higher but was reduced, Mr Hancock said, because the lockdown was working to stymie the spread of the virus.

However, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care has said no patients have been left without a ventilator who have needed one.

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