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Nadhim Zahawi was questioned by Kay Burley on when the Government will reach its ambitious testing figures of 10 million coronavirus tests a day. But when she described England’s testing capabilities as “being in the gutter” the junior business minister erupted at her comments. He explained that the UK is currently ahead of Germany with one test for every five people.
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Speaking to Sky News, Mr Zahawi said: “We’ve invested in some new tests already that deliver results in about 90 minutes.
“The new technology the half a billion that Matt Hancock is investing will take us further.
“Once we get technology to be robust and we absolutely trust it then you’ll begin to see the ability to expand much, much more quickly.
“I can’t give you a date on that what I can say is by October we will have the capacity of half a million tests a day.”
Ms Burley interjected: “Why come up with a figure of 10 million a day if you don’t know when you’re going to be able to do it?”
The junior business minister continued: “What I’m saying to you is we have to make sure that we continue to be ambitious about our testing capacity.
“Half a million a day puts us absolutely in the premier league of nations for tests.
“It’s right to be ambitious because if we can get to a situation where every person in the UK can test every day then you begin to be ahead of the virus even without a vaccine.”
Ms Burley added: “Was it Oscar Wilde who said, ‘we’re in the gutter but we’re looking up at the stars’. I mean we’re in the gutter looking up at 10 million, we don’t know when we’ll get there.”
Mr Zahawi hit back and said: “It’s a bit unfair when you say that.
“One test for every five people at the moment, ahead of Germany.
“To describe that is in the gutter is totally inaccurate.”
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It comes as the Health Secretary has defended the Government’s ambitious mass COVID-19 testing proposals in the face of laughter and heckling in Parliament.
Matt Hancock hit out at the “naysayers” in the House of Commons when outlining the “Operation Moonshot” plans, which would see millions of UK-wide tests carried out daily.
Earlier on Thursday, a leading statistician warned that hundreds of thousands of people could be unnecessarily told to isolate under the proposals.
But Mr Hancock said he is “absolutely determined that we will get there” and is looking forward to rolling out the programme, which will aim to provide mass testing using saliva and other methods that can deliver results within 20 to 90 minutes.
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