The government will write off £13.4 billion of historic NHS debt to enable trusts to better fight the coronavirus pandemic.

In his first public appearance since self-isolating with Covid-19 symptoms, Matt Hancock announced the financial package at today’s (April 2) press conference.

He said writing of debt held by NHS trusts across the country would put the service in a “better position” to fight Covid-19.

The health secretary also announced new measures to boost coronavirus testing, for both NHS staff and the public, following days of mounting pressure on the government to increase testing.

The government aims to be able to deliver 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month.

So far, 5,000 NHS staff have been tested for the deadly virus.

Mr Hancock said work is underway to "significantly" increase the UK's network of testing laboratories to boost efforts.

He added his priority for testing was patients "for whom the result is the difference between life and death."

Across the UK, 160,194 people have been tested for coronavirus with 33,718 individuals testing positive and 12,949 hospital admissions.

So far, 2,921 people have died from Covid-19.

Mr Hancock added: “Our step by step action plan will slow the spread of the virus so fewer people will need hospital treatment at any one time.

“We are steadfast as a country in our resolve to defeat this invisible killer. I am profoundly moved by the passion and commitment of NHS staff.

“I am awed by the dedication of colleagues on the frontline, every single person who contributes to this caring institution that our nation holds so dear.