Number 10 brushes off Nadine Dorries comments and says coronavirus testing ‘so important’

Downing Street has distanced itself from comments made by the health minister Nadine Dorries after she said testing is “not a cure” for the coronavirus outbreak.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson insisted testing was “so important” to the Government’s strategy when asked about Ms Dorries’ remarks.

He said: “We acknowledge that more needs to be done in relation to testing. We need to be testing more people, and we need to be making progress very quickly.”

Ms Dorries had said “no amount of tests” could alter the fact that there was currently “no treatment, no cure, no vaccine” for coronavirus.

The MP for Mid Bedfordshire – who has returned to work after recovering from the virus – said: “Testing is not a cure, it won’t cut the number of deaths, it won’t make people feel better or stop them catching coronavirus.”

On Thursday, the deputy chief medical officer made similar claims, dismissing testing as a “side issue”.

“What matters is slowing the rate of new infections,” Professor Jonathan Van Tam said. “And the only way you can slow the rate of new infections, irrespective of whether they’re tested or not – it’s a bit of a side issue, to be truthful with you – what’s important is the social distancing, stopping people coming into contact, so that the rate of new cases slows.”

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the “core” of the Government’s strategy is “stopping people from being infected in the first place” and added: “I think that the words from the Deputy Chief Medical Officer were reflecting that fact.”

Number 10 also confirmed that over 2,800 tests had taken place in drive-through facilities, with a “significant number” of NHS staff being tested in laboratories as well. On Tuesday, 10,412 UK tests took place in NHS and Public Health England labs.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, will set out further measures to ramp up testing during Thursday’s Government press conference.

Downing Street also suggested “immunity passports” could be useful in order to get people back to work. Researchers in Germany are currently preparing a mass study into how many people are immune to Covid-19, which will allow authorities to issue passes to exclude workers from restrictive lockdown measures.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “This is something which has been discussed in other countries. We have always said we are watching closely what other countries are doing and will always look to learn from ideas which could be helpful.”

Source Article