Seven more coronavirus cases diagnosed in Lancashire

Public Health England figures
Public Health England figures

Official figures show that seven more cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Lancashire.

It brings the number of cases recorded in the area up to 78, as the UK’s chief medical officer dismissed suggestions a coronavirus antibody test will be ready to buy online next week.

Public Health England figures show that 78 people had been confirmed as testing positive for Covid-19 by yesterday (March 25) in Lancashire, up from 71 the same time the day before. A week before, there were 15 cases.

They were among the 703 cases recorded across the North West, a figure which rose by 110 over the 24-hour period.

Across the UK, 9,529 people had tested positive for coronavirus as of Wednesday, up from 8,077 at the same point on Tuesday, Department of Health and Social Care figures show.

In total, 97,019 people had been tested, and 463 had died.

The UK’s chief medical officer has dismissed suggestions a coronavirus antibody test will be ready to buy online next week.

Professor Chris Whitty said the accuracy of the tests needed to be properly tested before they were made available for public use.

His comments come after Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, told the Science and Technology Committee people would be able to carry out Covid-19 antibody tests at home in the “near future”.

She said 3.5 million tests – which will tell people whether they have had Covid-19 – had been bought by the Government, and some were undergoing tests at an Oxford laboratory.

The committee also heard from an expert that the lockdown means the NHS should be able to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Neil Ferguson, who is recovering from Covid-19 himself, told measures taken by the Government could tip the outbreak from a growing epidemic to a declining epidemic.

The director of MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Imperial College London, also explained there was some uncertainty, but that if current measures work as expected, then intensive care demand would “peak in approximately two to three weeks and then decline thereafter”.

Prof Ferguson told the committee current predictions were that the NHS would be able to cope if strict measures continued to be followed.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson said the UK is “coping very well indeed under the most challenging possible circumstances”.

The Prime Minister said the Government was “massively ramping up” testing for coronavirus as he announced that 405,000 people have now signed up as volunteers to help vulnerable people.

He said it was hoped that “very soon” 250,000 tests would be carried out each day.

Speaking at the daily press conference inside Number 10, he added that he wanted to offer a “special thank you to everyone who has now volunteered to help the NHS".