Naga praised by viewers as she shuts down Matt Hancock in heated testing debate

BBC Breakfast viewers have praised Naga Munchetty for ‘going in hard’ when grilling Matt Hancock during today’s programme. 

The Health Secretary promised a second national lockdown would be the ‘last line of defence’, but Naga pointed out that unless the shortage of tests is swiftly resolved a second lockdown is ‘inevitable’. 

As Naga asked how Mr Hancock plans to ramp up testing, the minister explained: ‘Obviously this is critical and we’ve all seen, especially this week, the challenges. We’re on track to increase capacity to 500,000 from 250,000 now. 

‘We’re doing that by getting more machines in to labratories, we’re installing those as we speak, we’re employing more people to run them because it’s a logistical excercise as well, not just the science part of it…’

‘By when?’ Naga interrupted. ‘500,000 by when?’

When Mr Hancock claimed we’ll get there by October, Naga dived in: ‘So if that rapid national testing system isn’t in place by the end of October, a second national lockdown is inevitable, isn’t it?’ 

‘Well the two are not as connected as that,’ Mr Hancock claimed. ‘Because the most important thing to avoid a second national lockdown is if people abide by social distancing and if you have a positive test or symptoms…’

‘No, it’s about whether you can get a test,’ Naga, clearly frustrated, cut in. ‘It’s not about the result, it’s about whether you can get a test because this whole moon shot idea put forward by the Prime Minister, if that system isn’t in place by October we cannot work through coronavirus as it exists.’

Mr Hancock, however, stressed there was no link between the accelaration of testing and a second lockdown.

‘Testing, of course, helps but the most important thing is people follow social distancing,’ he said. ‘And if you get a test result or have symptoms you should self isolate, and I think we’ve got to stress the importance of self isolation as well as social distancing because it’s that self-isolation that helps to break the transmission of the virus. 

‘Testing, of course, is a critical part of that but it’s very important people follow the self-isolation. If you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested post then you should not come forward for a test unless you have symptoms because you’ve got to self-isolate for two weeks whatever the results of that test because the virus incubates within us.’

Naga didn’t seem convinced, and neither were viewers who praised the presenter for  ‘eating Matt Hancock’ for breakfast: 

The current testing scheme has been branded a ‘farce’ as images emerged of huge numbers of people queueing outside test centres.

Jonathan Ashworth, shadow health and social care secretary, said this week: ‘They promised us a world beating system but because of ministerial incompetence they are now forced to restrict testing.

‘When testing breaks down we lose our ability to control the virus. It’s now urgent ministers fix testing.’

BBC Breakfast airs weekdays at 6am on BBC One. 

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