The UK must go “further, faster” to ramp up coronavirus testing capacity, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has said.
The government has set a target of carrying out 25,000 tests a day – but that will not be met until the end of April.
Mr Gove said there was a global shortage of the chemicals needed to test patients.
There were over 8,000 patients tested on Monday.
But Mr Gove said the UK must go “further, faster”.
“We are working with companies worldwide to ensure that we get the material we need to increase tests of all kinds.”
His comments come amid mounting criticism about the inability of some health staff to get tests.
The Royal College of Physicians said as many as a quarter of doctors are off work because they are having to self-isolate – either because they are showing symptoms or a member of their household is.
A fifth of nurses have been affected, the Royal College of Nursing said.
Staff started being tested over the weekend, but only in low numbers, according to the British Medical Association.