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The health secretary reveals tests are having to be prioritised and also hints at a possible future further rationing of tests.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted there are “challenges” with the coronavirus testing system following a “sharp rise” in demand.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Mr Hancock said the government was “working hard” to fix issues with COVID-19 testing availability but admitted it could take a “matter of weeks”.

He revealed tests were now having to be prioritised and also hinted at a possible future further rationing of tests.

“The whole House knows there are operational challenges and we’re working hard to fix them,” the health secretary said.

The government has come under growing pressure from NHS hospital trusts, public health officials and MPs over a lack of availability of coronavirus tests in some areas.

Mr Hancock said he would not rule out a further prioritisation of testing in order to ensure hospitals and care homes can get the tests they need.

Currently anyone who displays coronavirus symptoms can get an NHS test, as well as those who have been asked to get a test by a hospital or local council.

“Throughout this pandemic we have prioritised testing according to need,” the health secretary told MPs.

“Over the summer, when demand was low, we were able to meet all requirements for testing whether priorities or not.

“But, as demand has risen, so we’re having to prioritise once again. I do not shirk from decisions about prioritisation.

“They’re not always comfortable, but they’re important. The top priority is, and always has been, acute clinical care.

“The next priority is social care, where we’re now sending over 100,000 tests a day because we have all seen the risks this virus poses in care homes.

“We’ll set out in full an updated prioritisation and I do not rule out further steps to make sure our tests are used according to those priorities.

“It is a choice that we must make.”

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