Another 569 people have died after contracting coronavirus, taking the UK death toll to 2,921.
Today’s jump in deaths is the biggest daily increase since the outbreak began, following another massive rise of 563 deaths yesterday.
As of 9am on Thursday, a total of 163,194 people have been tested of which 33,718 tested positive.
Boris Johnson has insisted testing is “the way” through the coronavirus crisis as the Government continues to face intense pressure over its policy.
The Prime Minister took to Twitter to stress the importance of testing in a message to the public, saying it is how “we will unlock the coronavirus puzzle”.
It came as Professor Paul Cosford, emeritus medical director of Public Health England (PHE), admitted “everybody involved is frustrated” by the low number of tests being carried out.
He pointed to ongoing capacity issues and said the “core priority” until now has been testing hospital patients with suspected Covid-19.
PHE’s focus has been on NHS testing laboratories, while other work is now being led by the Office for Life Sciences to collaborate with universities and non-PHE labs, he said.
This follows accusations that PHE and the Government have been too slow to realise that a massive expansion in testing is needed and have snubbed offers of help from the wider scientific community.
In a video message on Twitter on Wednesday evening, Mr Johnson said: “I want to say a special word about testing, because it is so important, and as I have said for weeks and weeks, this is the way through.
“This is how we will unlock the coronavirus puzzle. This is how we will defeat it in the end.”
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