The government website for key workers to apply for coronavirus tests will reopen for bookings later, after it was closed due to “significant demand”, the transport secretary has said.
Speaking at Downing Street’s daily briefing, Grant Shapps insisted the site closed after “the slots for today were taken up”.
But he said it would come back online for more bookings on Friday evening.
There have already been 46,000 visits to the site, and 16,000 bookings.
The website had to close to new applicants within hours of launching, but Mr Shapps said it had not crashed.
He said the website was “being brought back up” with new slots and added that further tests would become available for essential workers to book on Saturday.
The transport secretary also stressed the test was only suitable to test if you think you currently have coronavirus, not if you have previously had it.
Mr Shapps said ministers were “encouraged” by the initial demand for tests, and suggested that the government was on track to meet its target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of April.
“It looks like the trajectory to 100,000 tests by the end of April is going to be met in terms of capacity,” he said.
“I would say, after today, the demand is there, so if those two things come together we will have it being met.”
Mr Shapps said getting “somewhere near” the 100,000 tests a day target would be an achievement by international standards.
“I think that if by the end of the next week, the end of the month, we’ve got somewhere near that goal of 100,000, I think in comparative terms internationally I think that’s a very high number,” he said.
Under the expanded testing scheme announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Thursday, all essential workers in England and their families are eligible to register for tests on the government’s website, if they have virus symptoms.
The latest figures show a further 684 people died with the virus in UK hospitals, bringing the total number of deaths to 19,506.