Almost 8% of UK National Health Service staff are off work sick

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Nearly 8% of staff working for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) are currently off sick, health minister Matt Hancock said in an interview with Sky News Friday.

The British government has been under intense pressure to provide more support to frontline medical workers as they struggle to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. Hancock said 5.7% of doctors were off work.

Health professional groups have said that up to a quarter of their members are off sick or self-isolating because of Covid-19 or exhibiting symptoms related to the virus, but Hancock said such figures are “wrong.” Still, he said that he wants to get the actual numbers much lower than they are.

Part of that involves ramping up testing for NHS staff. Hancock said that as of Thursday morning, about 5,000 NHS staff had been tested.

He also said that testing in the broader community will be ramped up and promised that the government would be able to carry out 100,000 tests per day by the end of April.

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