Boris Johnson has claimed that the government’s inability to source and supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to those who need it has been “enraging” for him.
Johnson made the comment during his first Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) since recovering from coronavirus, and pledged a “massive plan” to ramp up supply.
Leader of the Labour party, Sir Keir Starmer, said there are “ongoing problems” with PPE and that “it is obvious that this problem is going to get even more acute if and when the government asks people to return to work”.
Starmer asked the PM whether he could reassure the public that they won’t be asked to return to work until there is a “very robust, national plan for protective equipment”.
The PM replied that he “certainly” can, adding that the government is “engaged in a massive plan to ramp up domestic supply” of PPE.
Johnson also set a new 200,000 daily coronavirus testing target as he was challenged by accusations that the government had been slow to respond to the outbreak, leaving the UK with the highest death toll in Europe at nearly 33,000, according to new figures.
“The ambition clearly is to get up to 200,000 a day by the end of this month and then to go even higher,” he said.
The announcement came as the government missed its 100,000 daily tests goal for a fourth day running yesterday.
Tests for coronavirus plunged below 70,000 yesterday – down more than 50,000 on the daily total of 122,000 claimed by the government last week.
And according to a survey by the National Care Forum, less than a quarter of social care staff with COVID-19 symptoms have been tested for the virus, despite promises from the government to roll out testing for all care workers.
The survey of its members, which between them employ 31,262 staff, found that 22% of the 6,469 care workers identified as being a priority for testing, due to having symptoms, were actually tested.