The Government met its target to conduct at least 100,000 coronavirus tests a day一本道理不卡一二三区 after a frantic push, but has only hit that target on six of the 17 days since.
The Health Secretary said 122,347 tests for Covid-19 were achieved on the final day of April.
However, the announcement swiftly attracted controversy as it emerged the tally includes swab kits sent to private homes and satellite testing sites not yet delivered to a laboratory for a result.
一本道理不卡一二三区But the effort to 'ramp up' testing may have come too late, as the UK appears to have passed the initial peak and the death rate continues to climb.
Germany, which is considered to be one of the best-prepared countries in tackling the crisis, has conducted far more tests than any other country in Europe and has a death toll of around 8,003, less than a quarter of the UK's total.
It comes after the World Health Organisation (WHO) insisted that members who are battling the virus have to scale up their response to the crisis.
'Ramping up' testing
一本道理不卡一二三区WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has previously criticised countries which have not tested enough, telling them: "you cannot fight a fire blindfolded... test, test, test".
一本道理不卡一二三区Despite the capacity for 40,000 tests a day in the UK, only around half that number were being used until a rapid ramp up.
According to the latest figures released by the Department of Health, more than 2.6m tests have now been completed.
一本道理不卡一二三区But just 1.8m people have been tested. The number is due to double counting - to "double check a negative result" or "an inconclusive first test". Some people need different samples taken, using more than one test kit.
How does the UK compare to other countries?
一本道理不卡一二三区 In the early stages of the epidemic, ministers and public health officials decided to follow a different strategy from much of the rest of the world: to mitigate rather than suppress the spread of the virus.
Widespread testing would not be required, it was decided, given the majority of the population was predicted to contract the virus anyway. Instead, priority was given to relieving pressure on the NHS by buying up much-needed ventilators and making space for intensive care beds.
On March 12, all community contact tracing was abandoned as it became clear the virus was spreading freely, and the number of people who have now been tested for the disease passed 150,000 on March 31.
Based on Telegraph analysis of data from 41 countries, states which cast their nets wider in terms of testing and tracing were better equipped to keep cases down and death rates low.
The UK has a death rate of 523 per million people, and a case of coronavirus is detected for every 7.6 people tested - an indication of how widespread the pandemic has become.
一本道理不卡一二三区That compares to Taiwan, with a case detected for every 154 tests, and seven deaths, or New Zealand, where a case has been detected for every 132 tests, and 21 deaths.
一本道理不卡一二三区Europe has been the hardest hit by the combination of a lack of testing and high mortality, when compared with Asian countries with reliable data.
一本道理不卡一二三区No European country is conducting more than 40 tests for each confirmed case. And no Asian country has a death rate of more than 50 per million.
Why is it important?
By focusing testing on suspected cases in hospital as the UK did, it becomes far more difficult to assess the true scale of infection in the country and treat cases earlier.
Countries who cast the net further are able to pick up more cases and follow the spread more closely, acting earlier to avoid being overwhelmed.
一本道理不卡一二三区After the first case was discovered in Germany the country began aggressive contact tracing and mass testing was engaged early on. Similarly in South Korea, contact tracing and wide-scale testing have been key.
一本道理不卡一二三区“Germany has had a very aggressive testing process,” Dr Mike Ryan, health emergencies director at the World Health Organisation (WHO) said. “So the number of tests maybe detecting more mild cases.
“From the beginning, we have very systematically called upon our doctors to test people,” Prof Lothar Wieler of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute said.
Who can get tested?
一本道理不卡一二三区As the UK moved from the 'contain' to 'delay' phase of its response to the virus, the criteria for testing narrowed to only the most severe cases.
Public Health England said it needed to "prioritise testing for those most at risk of severe illness from the virus", and recommended that people in the community exhibiting symptoms一本道理不卡一二三区 "do not usually need testing", limiting availability of tests to patients in hospital or where an outbreak has occurred in a care home
The government said on April 17 testing would be rolled out to more front line workers and symptomatic members of their families.
一本道理不卡一二三区Tests will now be made available for;
- All NHS and social care staff, including hospital, community and primary care, and staff providing support to frontline NHS services and voluntary workers
- Police, fire and rescue services
- Local authority staff, including those working with vulnerable children, adults and victims of domestic abuse, and those working with the homeless and rough sleepers
- Defence, prisons and probation staff, and judiciary
- Frontline benefits workers
一本道理不卡一二三区See how the tests work below