Matt Hancock claims it’s ‘meaningless’ to know how many people are being tested for coronavirus

Matt Hancock appears on the BBC to talk coronavirus. Photograph: BBC.

Matt Hancock appears on the BBC to talk coronavirus. Photograph: BBC. - Credit: Archant

Health secretary Matt Hancock has claimed data on how many people are being tested is not 'meaningful', as he defended the government's decision not to show the figures for five weeks.

Questioned by the BBC's Dan Walker on BBC Breakfast, the health secretary said that the numbers 'doesn't add anything to the battle against coronavirus'.

He explained: 'We are publishing a huge amount of data. What I'm saying is as it was measured, this specific figure you were asking for, it just doesn't add anything to the battle against coronavirus.

'And it doesn't help people to know what to do at a local level, because of the fact we are now several months into this fight. So I'm perfectly… I'm happy to… we're working with the UK stats authority to try to find a way to publish it in a way that's meaningful.

'But the meaningful figure is how many tests are conducted, where they're being conducted, and where the positive tests results are. And that's what is important for tackling this virus and that data will be made public.'


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But it has left viewers distinctly unimpressed - with Piers Morgan on rival show Good Morning Britain accusing the minister of 'blather'.

He said: 'What are you talking about health secretary? What could be more important bit of data than how many people have been tested? What could be possibly more important? And you pretend it's meaningless how many people have been tested in this country.

'This is the same health secretary in the middle of March that presided over the end of community testing, because that was no longer appropriate.

'And what does this mean that the number of people being tested is meaningless. I wish I could ask him...'

Morgan continued: 'Unbelieveable, it's no longer meaningful to know how many people are being tested in this country'.

His co-presenter Susanna Reid pointed out that they were still counting the number of tests still being sent out, even though some will get lost or thrown away.

Branding it 'blather', Morgan continued: 'There couldn't be anything more significant or meaningful than knowing how many people have been tested and for the health secretary to get away with that blather on the BBC is utterly shocking'.

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