Government says it didn’t notice coronavirus testing figures missing from daily briefings

PUBLISHED: 15:37 27 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:57 27 May 2020

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance during a media briefing at 10 Downing Street. Photograph: PA Video.

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance during a media briefing at 10 Downing Street. Photograph: PA Video.

PA Wire/PA Images

Downing Street has said it was unaware that the number of people being tested for the coronavirus had disappeared from daily press briefings.

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A No 10 spokesperson said it was unable to explain why Department of Health testing figures had been dropped four days in a row saying it was “not something I have noticed.”

Reporters were told during a Downing Street press conference that the government was still on track to reach 200,000 tests per day by the end of May, despite capacity being at roughly 154,000 swabs a day.

Asked if the target would be hit, the spokesperson said: “Yes, that’s right. It’s in tandem with commitment to have test-and-trace scheme in place on Monday.”

The government also confirmed that chief health advisors Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance did not endorse Dominic Cummings’ actions of travelling to Durham while ill with Covid-19.

The spokesperson also downplayed claims that prime minister Boris Johnson outlined plans to reopen school to distract from the Cummings controversy.

The prime minister advised that schools would reopen from Sunday despite the schools minister saying the decision was to be made on Thursday.

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“The prime minister said on Sunday night the final decision will be taken as part of the formal review into lockdown measures, which the law requires us to undertake by Thursday,” they said.

“That formal review will happen tomorrow and we are hopeful, without prejudging it, that we will be able to proceed with the reopening schools on June 1”.

Downing Street also said it would not carry out a review of fines issued to families who travelled to get childcare during lockdown.

“We’re confident that the police will use their common sense and discretion, they have been very clear throughout that they will explain, encourage and finally enforce fines are always used by police as a last resort,” they added.

Reporters were also told that Boris Johnson had reaffirmed his support in Cummings saying he acted “legally” and “with integrity”.

The spokesperson said: “The prime minister set out on Monday night when he was asked about this that people would have to make up their own minds.

“He said his own conclusion was Dominic Cummings acted reasonably, legally and with integrity and care for his family and for others.”

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