A NEW alliance has been formed with businesses, research institutes and universities to boost testing capacity for frontline workers, Michael Gove has announced.

At a briefing in Downing Street today (March 27) cabinet minister Michael Gove has said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both testing positive for coronavirus shows that the “virus does not discriminate” but the Prime Minister will continue to lead the Government's effort to fight coronavirus.

A total of 759 people have now died in UK hospitals after being diagnosed with coronavirus, while 113,777 have tested positive and hundreds of thousands more people are thought to be infected.

Michael Gove said the Government brought together universities, businesses and research institutes in a 'new alliance' to boost testing capacity for frontline workers.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster told the daily Downing Street press conference: "Today I can announce that the Prime Minister has brought together businesses, research institutes and universities in a new alliance to boost testing capacity for frontline workers?

"This will be antigen testing - testing whether people currently have the disease - so that our health and social care workers can have security in the knowledge that they are safe to return to work if their test is negative.

"These tests will be trialled for people on the frontline starting immediately, with hundreds to take place by the end of the weekend - dramatically scaling up next week."

Mr Gove thanked those working in the NHS and 'all those involved in this effort to reinforce the frontline in the battle against the virus.'

And he said: "The best scientific analysis now is that the rate of infection has been doubling every three to four days."

Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, said 6,200 patients who have tested positive for coronavirus are being treated at hospitals in England and that number is “only bound to rise in the coming days”.

He said the NHS is making 'positive efforts' to ensure they can care for patients with coronavirus and thanked the public for the Clap For Carers effort, saying it would have meant an “enormous amount” to NHS staff to know the “whole country is behind them”.

He said: "We have reconfigured hospitals so we now have 33,000 hospital beds available to treat further patients.

"We are building new temporary hospitals in short order the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the Excel Centre in London, Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre and the Manchester Central Conference Centre and further hospitals are to follow.

He said in the last two weeks 18,000 doctors and nurses have returned to practise registers after “answering the calls to arms”.

“It was therefore very gratifying for our staff across the NHS to see this remarkable outpouring in the Clap For Carers last night,” Sir Simon Stevens said.

“For many nurses coming home from a day at hospital or for other staff returning to start again for the night shift it would have meant an enormous amount to know that the whole country is behind them.”

He also said that across England there are now 33,000 hospital beds available to treat coronavirus patients.

Sir Stevens said testing of frontline NHS staff to determine whether they have or have had coronavirus will start next week.

He said: “From an NHS perspective, we think it is urgently important that we are able to test frontline workers who are off sick or otherwise isolating.

“That’s why the work that Public Health England has been leading is so important because it means we are going to be able to double this time next week the number of tests we have been doing this week.

“I can say that today we will be rolling out staff testing across the NHS, starting next week with the critical care nurses, other staff in intensive care, emergency departments, ambulance services, GPs.

“As testing volumes continue to increase, we want to widen that to essential public service workers, as well as our social care workers, and continue with patient testing that is so vital.”