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UK may miss Covid-19 testing target as its death toll jumps to second in Europe

A cabinet minister has admitted that the UK is on track to miss its target of carrying out 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of April. It comes after the country jumped to second in Europe for fatalities from Covid-19.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock sets the goal amid intense scrutiny earlier this month. But as April draws to a close, only 52,429 tests were completed on Wednesday, leaving the UK far short of its stated goal and raising further questions about the government’s handling of the crisis.

Justice Minister Robert Buckland conceded that the goal may not be met in TV interviews on Thursday. “Even if it isn’t met, we’re well on our way to ramping this up and 100,000 is an important milestone, but frankly we need more,” he said.

“Yes, 52,000 isn’t 100,000, I know that... but we are straining every sinew to get there... If [Hancock] hadn’t set a target he would have been criticized for being unambitious. I think now is the time in respect of this to be bold,” Buckland added.

On Wednesday, the UK’s official death toll from Covid-19 overtook those of France and Spain after health officials finally included people who died in care homes and the wider community in the fatality figures.

Previously, only people who died in hospital after testing positive for the illness were included in the stats, leading to question marks about the veracity of what Britons were being told.

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