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Brits could not get coronavirus tests as labs reached 'critical pinch-point'

Brits were unable to get coronavirus tests after labs reached a "critical pinch-point" as cases spiked to almost 3,000 yesterday.

Director of NHS testing and NHS Test & Trace Sarah Jane-Marsh was forced to apologise after people were told they could not get a swab.

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Brits who tried to get themselves a test for coronavirus this morning were unable to, with no available slots at test centres in London and people across England told the only place was more than 60 miles away.

All home tests kits were also unavailable this morning.

Ms Jane-Marsh apologised for the problems, saying: "Can I please offer my heartfelt apologies to anyone who cannot get a COVID test at present.

"All of our testing sites have capacity, which is why they don't look overcrowded, its our laboratory processing that is the critical pinch-point.

"We are doing all we can to expand quickly."

She added: "We have additional NHS, Lighthouse, University and Partner Labs all due to open-up imminently and we are also expanding the use of non-Laboratory based tests.

"The Testing Team work on this 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. We recognise the country is depending on us."

According to the gov.uk website, 175, 687 tests were processed yesterday, but there was spare capacity for another 194, 250 tests to be carried out.

Andy Thompson, 38, a technical manager from Crewe, said his six-year-old daughter is home from school with a continuous cough, but has so far been unable to get a home test.

"It's an absolute shambles. No home tests available. And now the nearest test centre is Oldham, a 100-mile round-trip with a sick child," he said.

"I didn't realise how bad it is. If you haven't got a car, no way you're getting tested.

"And if you aren't computer literate, don't bother as the phone line is useless.

"I've tried every option to speak to someone and it just hangs up saying call back later they are busy."

He said his daughter started to get sick only two days after returning to primary school and could not go back to class until she got a negative test or quarantined.

Mr Thompson added that he was particularly worried about catching the virus because he has "bad asthma".

People complained on Twitter that the lack of tests has been ongoing for days.

One person wrote: "Presented with coronavirus symptoms last Sun. Advised to get test. 1 drive thru apt available in Chesterfield (63 miles away).

"Then couldn't even book that. No home tests. Nothing at walk in. Then rcvd the 'service unavailable' message. Same every day."

Another said: "Same in Birmingham, I tried all day (yesterday) both online and on the phone.

"Thought I’d managed to get through once and then the line went dead. Happy to return to the office but won’t be doing so now."

It came as:

  • Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick warned that no one wants another national lockdown to happen
  • The Director of NHS testing warned they were currently unable to provide coronavirus tests after labs reached a "critical pinch-point"
  • Jonathan Van Tam warned that Brits have "relaxed too much" which has caused the current spike
  • And he pointed out that party-loving youngsters must remember they are “potent spreaders” infecting the elderly. 
  • Young people are said to behind the latest outbreaks, as more teens see friends and have parties
  • Caerphilly in south Wales prepared to be placed under local lockdown from 6pm tonight

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday a new 75-mile limit had been imposed on the NHS Testing portal, after people were directed to drive hundreds of miles from their home to get a test while suffering with coronavirus symptoms.

It comes as the number of positive coronavirus cases has soared for two days in a row, sparking fears capacity is unable to keep up with increasing demand, despite Mr Hancock's promises to ensure everyone who needs a test, will get a test.

There were 2,948 fresh cases yesterday and 2,988 new infections on Sunday.

Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tham warned people had relaxed too much.

He said yesterday: "People have relaxed too much. Now is the time for us to re-engage and realise that this is a continuing threat to us."

And ministers are meeting today to decide whether to slash the number of households who are allowed to meet up at anyone time.

 

 

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