A minister has been slammed on national television this morning for allegedly not telling the truth regarding testing during the pandemic.
Work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey defended the government’s coronavirus testing record on BBC Breakfast today as having improved from a ‘standing start’.
Responding to the Commons Science and Technology Committee’s criticism, she said: ‘I recognise that there have only been a handful of days where more than 100,000 people have gone for that test.
‘We had a small amount of capacity at the very start, it was solely based on Public Health England’s capability of being able to have about 2,000 tests a day.
‘We had little capacity early on, I recognise that, we have got a lot of capacity now.
‘I think from pretty much a standing start, roughly in about mid-February I think it was, to get to a capacity and actual tests being done of 100,000 within about six weeks, I think is pretty full-on and actually I think something we can look on with pride.’
But speaking on Good Morning Britain, presenter Piers Morgan criticised this, pointing out that the number of people having gone for tests is not the same as the number of tests which have actually been carried out – because sometimes it takes a few tests to get a positive result for Covid-19.
He said: ‘Thérèse Coffey: if you were on our programme, if you had the guts to come on, I would have said to you, there’s been no days, zero, nada, nil.
‘What you’ve just said was a lie. You’ve just told BBC viewers there have been a handful of days when over 100,000 people have been tested.
‘No, There have been a handful of days when you have conducted apparently over 100,000 tests- there hasn’t been a day when you have tested 100,000 people.
‘That’s another government minster avoiding us, lying through her back teeth, to the country about what they’re doing with testing. And she’s the one that’s said how “proud” she is of the testing. Well of course, it’s easy to be proud, if you’re basing it on a pack of lies.’
To show this, Good Morning Britain published a graph which shows the number of people tested versus the number of tests carried out.
Although the government has hit its 100,000 tests a day target seven times since April 30, not once have more than 100,000 people been tested.
For this figures are much lower at around 60,000 to 70,000 individuals. It comes after Matt Hancock announced yesterday everyone over the age of five who is showing Covid-19 symptoms is now eligible for a coronavirus test in the UK.
The Heath Secretary told MPs in the Commons: ‘We are expanding eligibility for testing further than ever before.’
He added: ‘Yesterday we conducted 100,678 tests. Every day we are creating more capacity and that means more people can be tested, and the virus has fewer places to hide.
‘Today, I can announce to the House that everyone aged five and over with symptoms is now eligible for a test.
`‘That applies right across the UK in all four nations from now. Anyone with a new continuous cough, a high temperature or the loss or change of sense of taste or smell can book a test by visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus.’