The government is to stop publishing statistics on the number of people tested for coronavirus on a daily basis.
Downing Street said that instead the daily figure for tests processed will be released by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Prime minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said the change reflected the fact that many health and social care workers are now being tested multiple times.
Under the old system, they were counted only on their first test. The new system is likely to produce higher figures as repeated tests on an individual person will be included.
The PM’s spokesman said: “DHSC will no longer publish the number of people tested daily any more and will instead publish the number of daily tests processed.
“This is because the daily ‘people tested’ statistic only counts new people being tested.
“For example, someone who is tested in February and then tested again this month will only be counted once.
“Considering hospital and care home staff are now being tested on a regular basis, we don’t think this statistic would be an accurate reflection of the amount of daily testing that is taking place.
“Test and trace statistics published weekly will still include the number of people who have been tested.”
The spokesman said that, in the 24 hours up to 9am on Sunday a total of 164,849 tests had been provided and the testing capacity for the day stood at 294,258.
The DHSC said in a statement: ‘People tested’ figures are published as part of the weekly Test and Trace publication. Many people are retested multiple times for valid reasons, such as regular testing of health and care workers over several months.
“The ‘people tested’ measure was initially used to avoid counting one person tested several times in a short space of time.
“It no longer usefully reflects the volume of tests carried out as, for example, a healthcare worker receiving their second, third or fourth test since the start of the pandemic would not be counted as they have been tested once before.”