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WHO expert hits out at lack of testing

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The UK's failure to mass  test for coronavirus has been condemned by a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert who revealed 44 laboratories had been left idle. (Ben Birchall/PA)

The UK's failure to mass test for coronavirus has been condemned by a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert who revealed 44 laboratories had been left idle. (Ben Birchall/PA)

The UK's failure to mass test for coronavirus has been condemned by a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert who revealed 44 laboratories had been left idle. (Ben Birchall/PA)

The UK's failure to mass test for coronavirus has been condemned by a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert who revealed 44 laboratories had been left idle.

Ministers and scientists should have recognised weeks ago that a South Korean-style blitz, which reduced the death rate there to just three per million, was the correct response, Anthony Costello said.

"We have 44 molecular virology labs in the UK," said the British paediatrician and former WHO director.

"If they were doing 400 tests a day, we would be up to Germany's levels of testing - and that is perfectly feasible."

Dr Costello accused Public Health England of being too "slow" in allowing labs it does not run to begin testing, which only started two weeks ago. He also warned that a rapid acceleration was the only way for the UK to avoid a painful six months before society "returns to normal", as the public was warned on Sunday.

"We must go to mass testing and, when we remove the lockdown, I don't think it will take six months. All the Asian states... it was six to eight weeks to being able to lift the lockdown," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Belfast Telegraph