PM announces end of June target for 24 hour turnaround of coronavirus tests

Boris Johnson has committed to a 24 hour turnaround time on coronavirus testing by the end of June - just a week after saying he had been forbidden from setting new targets.

Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 1:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 1:04 pm

Mr Johnson was challenged by former Health Secretary and chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee over how many test results were received in 24 hours, and whether that number could be published.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions Mr Johnson said 90 per cent of tests had a turnaround of 48 hours and he added: “I can undertake to him now to get all tests turned around in 24 hours by the end of June, except for difficulties with postal tests or insuperable problems like that.”

The PM promised, during an appearance in front of the Commons Liaison Committee last week, that those who have had a coronavirus test would soon have their results within 24 hours.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: PA

But at the time he would not commit to a specific date when this would take effect, adding he had been “forbidden from announcing any more targets and deadlines".

Mr Johnson was also pushed on whether he had changed his mind on the policy of no recourse to public funds for migrants who may be in economic difficulty during the coronavirus pandemic, which was also addressed at last week’s meeting.

Labour’s Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, said: “At the Liaison Committee last week the Prime Minister was clearly shocked to learn that many migrants living and working lawfully in the UK have no recourse to public funds.

“Without support, many have been forced to continue working in unsafe conditions or have been pushed into extreme poverty.

“He promised the Liaison Committee that he would do all he could to help. Scrapping the policy would be the best step, so can he update the House on his progress?”

Mr Johnson replied that “no recourse to public funds” is a term that “doesn’t necessarily mean that they are excluded from all public funds”.

He added: “And for instance, they may be eligible for coronavirus job retention scheme funds, self-employed income support scheme funds and indeed, if they’ve paid in to the benefits system, they may be eligible also for certain benefits.”

Mr Johnson was also questioned over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, USA.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “I am surprised the Prime Minister hasn’t said anything about this yet. I do hope that next time he speaks to President Trump he will convey to him the UK’s abhorrence about his response to the events.”

Mr Johnson replied: “I think what happened in the United States was appalling, it was inexcusable, we all saw it on our screens and I perfectly understand people’s right to protest what took place. Though obviously I also believe that protest should take place in a lawful and reasonable way.”

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