At the daily No 10 briefing of lobby journalists, Downing Street said just 2,000 people out of 500,000 frontline NHS England staff have been tested for coronavirus.
Around 1.2 million people work for NHS England in total. One in four frontline staff are estimated to be isolating.
Downing Street said the coronavirus testing capacity stands at 12,750 – but only 8,630 tests were carried out on Monday.
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “In terms of testing, as you know the NHS and Public Health England are working to increase the capacity.”
It came as the Department of Health confirmed a further 563 patients with coronavirus had died, taking the total number of deaths in UK hospitals to 2,352.
Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said the UK “needs a clear national testing strategy for community testing and contact tracing.”
He cotinued: “If delays in scaling up testing is lack of relevant chemicals. Why is the chemical industry saying it could make them if asked? If it’s about Public Health England validation surely ministers can pull everyone together to hammer out an urgent solution?”
The former governor of the Bank of England, Lord Mervyn King, has warned that an extended lockdown due to coronavirus could result in a “rebellion” if it is enforced for too long.
Lord King, who served as governor during the 2008 financial crisis, said it was “unrealistic” to think the lockdown could continue for “months and months on end” and called for a gradual exit strategy to protect the economy and citizens’ well-being.
The comments came during a round-table webinar organised by Policy Exchange involving Lord King, former chancellor Lord Alistair Darling, former permanent secretary to the Treasury Lord Nick Macpherson and Dr Gerard Lyons, Boris Johnson’s former economics adviser as Mayor of London.
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