A minister has admitted it is “probable” that the government will fail to meet its target of 100,000 daily coronavirus tests by the end of this month.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland made the admission in an interview on Sky’s Kay Burley@Breakfast.
However, he did say he thought the milestone would be hit in the “next few days”.
Mr Buckland told Kay Burley@Breakfast: “We’ll have the results, I think, tomorrow. Even if we don’t hit it, and it’s probable that we won’t, we will in the next few days hit that target.
“We’re up to 52,000 people being tested, the capacity is rising.
“I think it was right to set an ambitious target.
“Sometimes even if you don’t hit the target on the due date, the direction of travel is the most important thing.”
The latest available figures, for Tuesday, show that capacity reached 73,400 tests, with 52,429 of those tests being used.
Mr Buckland’s admission comes as Boris Johnson prepares to host his first coronavirus news conference since his battle with COVID-19.
As well as facing questions about the government’s handling of the crisis, it will be his first opportunity to speak publicly about becoming a father again, after his fiancee Carrie Symonds gave birth to a son.
His appearance will come after he chairs a cabinet meeting for the first time in five weeks.
The PM is expected to dash hopes of major changes to lockdown rules, with any alterations likely to have to wait until the government’s scientific advisory panel, SAGE, presents evidence to ministers next week ahead of the next lockdown review on 7 May.
Revealing the PM’s attendance at the Downing Street news conference, a Number 10 insider said: “He will give an update on the country’s fight against this disease and the steps we are taking to defeat it.”
The latest figures for the UK, which now include care homes as well as NHS hospitals, show 165,221 cases and 26,097 deaths and reveal that on eight days this month more than 1,000 people died from the virus.