Johnson Says More Testing Is How to ‘Unlock the Coronavirus Puzzle’

Date: 2020-04-02 17:45:32

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday the country was set to “massively (increase) testing” to combat the spread of the new coronavirus in the country.

He said that increasing testing was something he had emphasized “for weeks and weeks”, as “this is how we will unlock the coronavirus puzzle.”

Yet Johnson’s Conservative government has come under fire for failing to keep its promise to increase the amount of testing being done for COVID-19, even as the country on Wednesday saw its biggest day-to-day rise yet in deaths among people with the virus, to 2,352.

The issue has become an incipient political crisis for Johnson, who has mild symptoms and is working from isolation in the prime minister’s Downing Street apartment.

Richard Horton, editor of the medical journal The Lancet, said Britain’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis was “the most serious science policy failure in a generation.”

In a tweet, he noted that England’s deputy chief medical officer said last week that “‘there comes a point in a pandemic where that (testing) is not an appropriate intervention.”

“Now (testing is) a priority,” Horton said. “Public message: utter confusion.”

Like some other countries, the UK has restricted testing to hospitalized patients, leaving people with milder symptoms unsure whether they have had the virus.

Many scientists say wider testing — especially of health care staff — would allow medics who are off work with symptoms to return if they are negative, and would give a better picture of how the virus spreads.

The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people.

For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

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