THE UK Government is changing the way it calculates the number of coronavirus tests carried out in an "obsessed" bid to reach its target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of April, according to a leading health news outlet.

Previously, a test would be counted once the sample had been processed in laboratories. 

But a senior source told the Health Service Journal (HSJ) that the definition has been changed in the past few days.

The journal said the Department of Health and Social Care is now including tests that have been posted or delivered to people’s homes in its figures, meaning tests which are sent to people are counted before the recipient has provided and returned their sample to a laboratory.

The HSJ believes that up to 50,000 of the tests that will be reported as having taken place on April 30 will actually represent the mailing or the agreeing to mail a home testing kit.

In the past seven days from April 23 to 30, the number of tests reported by the government increased from 23,560 to 81,611.

The source told HSJ that work to achieve the 100,000 tests per day had been “manic” and that the health and social care secretary Matt Hancock was “obsessed” with reaching the target.

The source added: “They are trying every trick in the book. 

“They had to get the permanent secretary at DHSC [Chris Wormald] to agree to a change in the counting process.

“We’re now counting a home test as tests which have been sent to people’s homes.”

These are tests at laboratories run by Public Health England and NHS hospitals (Pillar One) and swab tests at dozens of community sites across the UK (Pillar Two), with the latter including the posting of home testing kits and deliveries by companies such as Amazon. 

HSJ believes around 27,000 home tests were posted to people yesterday as part of pillar two work. They will form part of today’s testing figures which are yet to be published.  

HSJ’s source said: “The view is that is unsustainable. It was just a massive one-day mission on the part of Amazon and the Royal Mail”.

HSJ understands the number of home test kits that have been returned by Amazon this week is about one one third of the number posted.