Coronavirus latest: Infections set new records in Russia and Iran, while Kenyan doctors threaten to strike


Harry Dempsey and Jasmine Cameron-Cheleshe

The UK’s Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has said that the expansion of coronavirus testing – which includes a target for regular testing for visitors at every care home in the UK – could help ensure a normal Christmas as possible.

In an interview with Sky News, Mr. Hancock said, “We are working with the developed administration to try to get a set of rules for Christmas, a set of arrangements.” “The extension of the test may be able to help deliver on that.”

On Monday, the UK government revealed plans to build two megalabs that could process 600,000 clinical trials a day, twice the current capacity.
Those plans have been hampered by inadequate processing capacity in public laboratories following the government’s testing and tracing program. However, these labs will not open until early next year under government schemes.

In a separate BBC interview, the Health Secretary said the government aimed at older people to be able to see their families over Christmas by regularly testing for visitors at every UK care home until 25 December. A pilot is currently being operated at 20 locations including Cornwall and Devon.

“Our goal is to make sure that we have every care home available from Christmas and to ensure that people can test and therefore see their loved ones safely,” he said.

Mr. Hancock stressed that videoconferencing services such as Zoom would help Prime Minister Boris Johnson work effectively. Mr Johnson is isolated himself after coming in contact with an MP who later tested positive for Kovid-19. The Health Secretary defended the lack of wearing masks and social distancing practices in Downing Street, calling it a “Kovid-safe place”.

The Health Secretary was questioned on ITV’s Good Morning Breakfast that he did not resign after a series of policy failures at the start of the crisis, including a decision to allow events such as the Cheltenham Festival to go ahead in March.

Defending the government’s response, he acknowledged that mistakes had been made, for example around the policy at funerals, which initially meant that spouses were not able to attend the funerals of their partners. “It was wrong and we have changed it,” he said.

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