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UK Government Partners With More Labs to Lift COVID-19 Testing Capacity

NEW YORK – The UK government has partnered with four university laboratories based in London to increase testing capacity for SARS-CoV-2, the UK Department of Health and Social Care said today.

Laboratories at University College London, Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London, and King's College London will all contribute to the effort. According to the government, the new labs bring the number of open test sites to 500 across the UK.

The four new university labs are members of Health Services Laboratories, a provider of pathology and diagnostic services to the UK National Health Service.

Dido Harding, interim executive chair of the UK National Institute for Health Protection, said the new agreements with the university labs will "see tens of thousands of extra tests being processed over the coming months and into the new year."

Harding said the median distance a person now has to travel to a test site is 3.7 miles, down from 4.3 miles last week.

That increased access to testing is lifting the rate of diagnosed cases in the UK. About 1.6 million tests were processed in the last week of September, and more than 51,000 people tested positive for the virus, more than double the number of the prior week. The first week of October saw 1.9 million people tested, a 7 percent increase compared to the last week of September and a 34-percent increase since August.

According to the UK government, PCR testing capacity currently stands at about 308,000 tests per day. Around 255,000 PCR tests are being processed daily in the UK, and more than 24 million have been processed to date.