UK coronavirus live: Matt Hancock says Covid testing shortage caused by people who don’t need them | Politics

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Well, it was good while it lasted. The news this morning is dominated by the announcement that coronavirus restrictions are again being tightened and that, from Monday, people in England are (with certain exceptions) not going to be allowed to socialise in groups of more than six.

Here is our main story. And here is an explainer from my colleague Peter Walker.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has been giving interviews this morning. He has refused to rule out a further national lockdown. And he has also offered an explanation for why many people have been finding it impossible to get a coronavirus test. It is because people are booking tests who do not need them, he told the Today programme. He said:

The reason we have constraint at the moment is not because capacity has gone down; far from it, capacity has gone up. It’s that we’ve suddenly seen this rise in demand from people who are not eligible. For instance, I’ve read stories of whole schools being told to go and get a test. That is not what the testing is there for. We need it for people who are symptomatic.

Although Labour claims the testing system is “on the verge of collapse”, Hancock denied this. He said:

I want to reassure people who have got symptoms 90% of people get a test that’s within 22 miles of them. The average distance that anybody has to travel to get a test is under 10 miles. So we have got the vast majority of people getting a test locally, getting the results very quickly.

But this increase in demand from people who are not eligible is a problem.

I will post more from his interview round shortly.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The Road Haulage Association gives evidence to the Commons Brexit committee about post-Brexit borders.

9.30am: Home Office officials give evidence to the Commons home affairs committee about migrant crossing the English Channel.

10.20am: Transport ministers Robert Courts and Rachel Maclean give evidence to the Commons transport committee about transport and coronavirus.

12pm: Boris Johnson faces Keir Starmer at PMQs.

12.15pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, is expected to hold a coronaviru briefing.

After 12.30pm: MP begin a debate on a Labour motion on extending the furlough scheme.

Afternoon: The government is due to publish its internal market bill.

4pm: Johnson is due to hold a press conference.

Politics Live has been doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog for some time and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, for the foreseeable future it will still mostly focus on coronavirus. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, and where they seem more important and interesting, they will take precedence.

Here is our global coronavirus live blog.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Source: The Guardian
Keyword: UK coronavirus live: Matt Hancock says Covid testing shortage caused by people who don’t need them | Politics

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