Following the rapid expansion of coronavirus testing, the UK reached the 200,000 capacity target on Saturday 30 May, including capacity for 40,000 antibody tests a day.
The rapid expansion of testing capabilities has led to the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities in British history. The capacity of NHS and Public Health England labs has been more than doubled, over 150 drive through and mobile testing units are in operation, and new innovative testing solutions such as home testing kits and lab-based antibody tests have been introduced from scratch.
The increased testing capacity has now allowed for the rollout of the new NHS Test and Trace system, which will identify and isolate new cases of the virus, controlling its spread and helping to gradually and safely ease lockdown measures.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Reaching our 200,000 capacity target is an important milestone on our journey to control the spread of the virus, save lives and gradually ease lockdown.
“By rapidly expanding our testing capacity, we have been able to introduce NHS Test and Trace, and enabling those who have coronavirus symptoms to get a test is an important part of the programme.
“I want to thank and pay tribute to the incredible team who joined together in one of the greatest national mobilisations that we’ve seen. We brought together the best minds in the civil service, NHS, PHE, universities and the scientific community, the armed forces and private sector companies across the globe to reach this incredible achievement.
“This is by no means the end of our ramping up of testing. We will continue to build upon the tremendous work so far, exploring new technology and deliver even more test results.”