Boris Johnson pledges 200,000 virus tests a day and other stories

Prime Minister Boris Johnson return to Questions in the House of Commons after his COVID-19 illness. Image: Screen grab from UK Parliament Youtube feed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to reach 200,000 tests for coronavirus a day by the end of May.

The government announced it had hit its target of 100,000 tests on Friday, but that number has since reduced again.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson said ‘capacity currently exceeds demand’ and the government was taking steps to address that.

He said his ‘ambition’ was to hit 200,000 tests ‘by the end of this month – and then go even higher.’

This was the first PMQs Mr Johnson has attended – as well as the first with new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer – since the birth of his son and recovery from coronavirus.

He also confirmed that plans would be set out to begin lifting the coronavirus lockdown on Sunday, with the potential for some of these measures to be implemented from Monday.


Government adviser on coronavirus Professor Neil Ferguson quits after admitting an “error of judgement”

Prof Ferguson, who advised the prime minister regarding his decision to lockdown the UK, said he regretted ‘undermining’ the social distancing guidelines.

The Telegraph reported that Antonia Staats, a woman said to be in a relationship with him, visited his home on at least two occasions during the lockdown.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that he ‘took the right decision to resign’ and told Sky News that Prof Ferguson continuing to advise  the government was “just not possible”.

The health secretary said it would be a matter for police to decide whether to take any action against Prof Ferguson for any potential breach of lockdown rules.

In a statement, Prof Ferguson said:

I acted in the belief that I was immune, having tested positive for coronavirus and completely isolated myself for almost two weeks after developing symptoms.

I deeply regret any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social distancing.

He also called the government advice on social distancing ‘unequivocal’, adding that it was there ‘to protect all of us.’


Heathrow Airport to begin trial of temperature screening technology

Embed from Getty Images

The boss of Heathrow Airport has told MPs that it is trialling large-scale temperature checks to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

He said they are already being carried out at departure gates on people travelling to locations where this is a requirement.

John Holland-Kaye urged the government to produce a plan as soon as possible on what standards airports should adopt, saying ‘If you want to get the UK economy started again, you have to get the aviation sector started again.’

Thousands of flights have been cancelled due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

Several airlines have written to the government suggesting a ‘graded system’ of restrictions to contain the spread while a more lasting solution is worked out.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK,  told MPs that airlines have outlined three levels of measures which countries choose to comply with.

Any flight between two destinations would have adopt the measures with the highest level.

For example, staff would have to wear personal protective equipment and all passengers have masks under the strictest level three.


UK warned to avoid climate change crisis

The government’s advisers have warned the UK must avoid lurching from the coronavirus crisis into a deeper climate crisis.

They recommend that ministers ensure funds committed to post-Covid-19 economic recovery go to firms that will reduce their carbon emissions.

They say the public should work from home if possible and to walk or cycle to travel.

The Committee on Climate Change has said investment should prioritise broadband over road-building.

People should also be encouraged to save emissions by continuing to consult GPs online.

Energy Secretary Alok Sharma has spoken in favour of a green recovery to the recession.


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