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6 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Evening summary: As testing numbers dip, the government plucks another target from thin air

By Samuel Horti

Not satisfied with missing out on one coronavirus testing target, the government has set another, even bigger one. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said today that it was his “ambition” to deliver 200,000 tests a day before the end of the month – although No 10 later clarified this referred to testing capacity, not tests actually carried out. The tally will also include antibody tests, which will tell you whether you have caught and recovered from coronavirus, rather than if you currently have it. Antibody testing is expected to roll out later this month.

At the latest count, 69,436 test were carried out in the UK in a 24-hour period. That’s far short of the 100,000 daily target the government previously set. In fact, it has only met that target twice: on 30 April (its self-imposed deadline for reaching 100,000 tests) and 1 May. Since then, testing has dipped. The volume of tests is less important than their quality and value, but in setting another high bar, the government has ensured the numbers remain in the spotlight. 

Something to watch for on that point: at least one part of the country is running short of the reagents needed for testing, which is worrying.

In other news, Johnson suggested the government would begin easing lockdown measures as early as next Monday, 11 May. He is due to reveal the government’s plan for moving out of lockdown in an address to the nation on Sunday, 10 May, and today said that ministers will begin easing some measures the very next day “if we possibly can”.

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And in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that all shops can now reopen, provided people stay 1.5 metres apart and wear masks. People from two households are now allowed to meet up and visit each other, she said after meeting with the heads of the country’s 16 states.