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Downing Street has said the government will no longer publish daily figures on the number of people tested for coronavirus.
Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said only the total number of tests processed will be published on a daily basis.
This is because only people who are receiving a test for the first time are counted towards the statistic, meaning many hospital and care home staff who are being tested on a regular basis will not be counted.
The prime minister’s spokesperson denied that the government was not publishing the figure because it was embarrassed at how few people were being tested.
He said: “That’s not the case, and I think the fact that we are very regularly testing hospital and care home staff is an important thing to be doing.”
It comes after questions about why the number of people tested each day was often lower than the total number of tests done or posted out each day.
Explaining the decision, the spokesperson said: “DHSC (the department for health and social care) will no longer publish the number of people tested daily anymore and will instead publish the number of daily tests processed.
“This is because the daily people tested statistic only counts new people being tested.
“For example, someone who is tested in February and then tested again this month would only be counted once.
“Considering hospital and care home staff are now being tested on a regular basis we don’t think this statistic would be an accurate reflection of the amount of daily testing that is taking place.
“Test and trace statistics published weekly do still include the number of people who have been tested.”
He added: “There are now significant numbers of people who are going to be tested for a second or third or fourth time because of hospital and care home staff being tested on a regular basis.”
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