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Under-fire Johnson says Britain will ‘massively increase testing’

AFP
LONDON
PRIME Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday Britain would “massively increase testing” for the COVID-19 virus as the country recorded more than 500 daily deaths for a second consecutive day.
Johnson made the vow amid a growing wave of criticism of his government’s failure to provide widespread screening, particularly among frontline healthcare workers.
The health ministry announced a record 569 deaths from the virus in Britain in the 24 hours up to 1600 GMT on Wednesday -- the largest single-day rise yet.
It followed 563 deaths over the previous corresponding period. The ministry has recorded a further 4,244 confirmed cases in hospitals, taking the number of positive tests to 33,718 as of 0800 GMT on Thursday.
Johnson has been in self-isolation since announcing on March 27 that he had caught the virus.
“The PM continues to have mild symptoms,” his official spokesman told reporters on Thursday.
“We will follow the best medical and scientific advice,” he added when asked if the British leader would end his quarantine on Friday, after the recommended seven days of isolation.
In an online video message posted on Wednesday evening, Johnson, whose initial light-touch approach to the outbreak came under scrutiny, said testing was the “way through” the crisis. “We’re also massively increasing testing. As I have said for weeks and weeks this (testing) is the way through,” he said.
“This is how we will unlock the coronavirus puzzle, this is how we will defeat it in the end.”
- Growing backlash -Johnson is facing increasing criticism, even in normally supportive media outlets, after officials revealed that just 2,000 out of some 500,000 staff in the state-run National Health Service (NHS) had been tested.