Kate Garraway grills Edward Argar over number of tests
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Kate Garraway questioned whether the British Government had enough tests available to sustain the demands of Britons as the economy re-opens. Boris Johnson insisted the rapid lateral flow tests will play a pivotal part in allowing the UK to return to normal life in the coming months. During a tense exchange with Health Minister Ed Argar, the Good Morning Britain host said: “Everybody does it because if you’ve offered it to everybody, you surely have budgeted for the potential of everybody taking it up.”
The Health Minister said: “We are confident that budget will cover whatever is needed to meet demand but what I was saying is you can’t exactly predict what that demand will be because not everyone will avail themselves of this.
“But you’re right, you plan optimistically as to how that will work. Take the last surge of usage of lateral flow devices, that was around 7.5 million in the space of a week when schools went back. That was easily met.”
Mr Argar also explained those who receive a positive result with the lateral flow test will be able to have a “confirmatory” PCR test to ensure they have the right diagnosis.
He said: “If you have a lateral flow test and it’s positive you should self-isolate, and stay home to follow the rules around that.
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“What you can then do is either call 999 or going online to book a confirmatory PCR test, the so-called gold standard.
“Following that PCR test, if it comes back negative, that will override the lateral flow test result.”
The new testing system is expected to come into effect from Friday.
The Prime Minister said the scheme would help stop fresh outbreaks, enabling the authorities to identify and control new variants of the disease.
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“As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine programme and with our road map cautiously easing restrictions underway, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted,” he said.
“That’s why we’re now rolling out free rapid tests to everyone across England – helping us to stop outbreaks in their tracks, so we can get back to seeing the people we love and doing the things we enjoy.”
Mr Johnson will chair a virtual meeting of the Covid O committee before briefing the full Cabinet on the arrangements for the latest phase of lockdown lifting which will see non-essential shops in England reopen from April 12.
He will then set out the details at a Downing Street news conference where he is expected to say more about plans announced at the weekend for Covid certificates for mass gatherings from sporting events to nightclubs.
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Under the Government’s road map, pubs and restaurants will be able to start serving customers outdoors from next week while hairdressers, nail salons, gyms and libraries – as well as non-essential retail – will be able to reopen.
While there is relief among MPs at the prospect of the economy reopening, there is concern among some about the proposals for the “Covid status certification” scheme dubbed “vaccine passports”.
Ministers insist the certificates – which could be a mobile phone app or a paper document – will never be required for essential services such as supermarkets, public transport or GP surgeries.
Initially, at least, they will also not be necessary to go to pubs or restaurants as they begin serving again.
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