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Up to 100,000 Covid-19 tests per day could be needed as part of a widespread testing and tracking strategy as the country emerges from lockdown, a Government scientific has said.

Professor Peter Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), which is advising ministers, said the Government’s plans to move into tracking and tracing future coronavirus patients would be a “real logistical challenge”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The test and trace capabilities are really going to be critical as we come out of lockdown.

“We will have to be able to test all those people (declaring via apps that they are displaying symptoms) and it is really a matter of scale and speed.

“One issue is how many tests we need, and if we are looking at 1,000 to 5,000 new cases per day of people with symptoms, of which maybe 5%-25% may have Covid, then you are talking about 25,000 to 100,000 tests per day.

“It is not much use getting the results five days later – you need it quickly so you can take the appropriate action and advise people to stay at home and also their contacts to stay at home to reduce transmission.”

He said such a testing and tracking strategy – also known as testing and contact tracing – would rely on the numbers of new cases being driven down.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said it is only by driving down the number of new cases that widespread testing and contact tracing will be effective.