Fiona Bruce has called out a Tory MP over his questionable Covid-19 testing figures on television.
Nadhim Zahawi, the MP for Stratford-on-Avon and business minister was on Question Time last night, where he said that the UK was doing “240,000 tests a day”.
Fiona Bruce reacted with disbelief, saying: “You’re not testing 240,000 people a day.”
Zahawi responded by saying: "We’re averaging 240,000 tests a day, at the moment. We plan to increase it to 500,000 by the end of October.”
Bruce then asked if she could pick him up on that figure, saying that the government’s own figures are that there are 81,000 tests every day.
Zahawi didn’t seem to know how to respond, merely saying that the figures he had on hand indicated otherwise.
Bruce pointed out that he was referring to the capacity of the testing regime – which is the number of tests that the testing regime can carry out.
Zahawi seemed to disagree, but then seconds later admitted that he was referring to the capacity.
People weren’t impressed, suggesting that Zahawi had been deliberately misleading.
This wasn’t the only time Zahawi was called out recently either.
Speaking to Sky News, Zahawi said that the UK was rapidly ramping up testing capacity, saying:
“I can’t give you a date on that. What I can say is by October we will have the capacity of half a million tests a day.”
When interviewer Kay Burley asked what the point was of a 10 million a day testing target was if they don’t know when they’ll be able to have it, Zahawi simply said that it would put the UK “absolutely in the premier league of nations for tests.”
"It's right to be ambitious because if we can get to a situation where every person in the UK can test every day then you begin to be ahead of the virus even without a vaccine."
Burley then said: “Was it Oscar Wilde who said, 'we're in the gutter but we're looking up at the stars'. I mean we're in the gutter looking up at 10 million, we don't know when we'll get there."
Zahawi hit back and said: "It's a bit unfair when you say that. One test for every five people at the moment, ahead of Germany. To describe that is in the gutter is totally inaccurate."
The UK government is facing increased scrutiny over a lack of testing – as the total number of confirmed Covid-19 infections rises every day – as well as an inability to get track and trace running as it had been promised back in April.
The UK government has promised that there will be 10 million tests available every day soon – but is only carrying out 81,000 every day at the moment.