Boris Johnson has made clear when people should get a test – and when classes should be sent home from school.
Appearing before the Commons Liaison Committee the Prime Minister admitted there wasn’t enough testing capacity – but promised 500,000 a day would be available by the end of October.
Currently centres have been hit by angry scenes as people desperately try to get Covid-19 tests only to be told they’ve run out.
Also schools have been hit by confusion about when children should go into isolation and when bubbles should be sent home.
The Prime Minister was clear that people should not get a test unless they have symptoms of coronavirus – including a temperature, persistent dry cough or breathlessness.
He also said that classes should not be sent home if someone had symptoms – only if there was a positive test.
Boris Johnson told MPs: “Many people are seeking to get a test in the hope that they can thereby be released to get on with their lives in the normal way – people who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive, for instance, they are seeking to get a test to ensure that they are OK to go to work.”
He told the Liaison Committee: “That is perfectly reasonable, and I understand why people are doing that, but the advice and the guidance is that people should seek a test not in those circumstances but when they have symptoms.”
Boris Johnson said it was important for teachers and parents to examine the Public Health England guidance about testing.
Groups of pupils should only be sent home if there had been a positive test, rather than someone just developing symptoms, the Prime Minister said.
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“The reasons for sending such a class home, or a bubble home, would be if somebody tests positive,” he said.
The Prime Minister told MPs: “Everything is being done that we possibly can to increase testing capacity.”
Boris Johnson told the Liaison Committee that includes “automation, batch testing, securing supplies abroad”.
He said a total of four new labs were being built across the country and 300 people were being hired.
“Testing capacity just in the last two weeks has gone up 10%,” he added.
The Prime Minister said: “We have massively increased our testing capacity.”
He added: “Actually, and I know that many people have had infuriating experiences, and I do sympathise with them.
“And we are trying to get as many tests out as we possibly can. But 89% get their results within 24 hours, if you have an in person test.
“And the distance that you have to travel to get a test has come down just in the last week. On average from about six or seven miles to about five miles.
“We are putting out many, many more tests.”
A second national lockdown would be likely to have “disastrous” financial consequences for the UK, Boris Johnson has said.
He was asked by Conservative MP and chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Julian Knight, whether the country could afford another national lockdown.
Mr Johnson replied: “I don’t want a second national lockdown – I think it would be completely wrong for this country and we are going to do everything in our power to prevent it.
“And can we afford it? I very much doubt that the financial consequences would be anything but disastrous, but we have to make sure that we defeat the disease by the means that we have set out.
“So when I see people arguing against the rule of six or saying that the Government is coming in too hard on individual liberties and so on – I totally understand that and I sympathise with that, but we must, must defeat this disease.”
Asked about his aim of having a “pregnancy-style test” in place within months, Boris Johnson said: “I am going to be cautious and say that I can’t sit here today and say that we have such a ‘pregnancy-style test’… today.
“It is right for Government to invest in such a project.”