Shortage of virus tests in United Kingdom hurts effort to fight 2nd wave

A medic tests a man for Covid-19 at a drive-in site

They're not always comfortable, but they are important.

Because of the surge in demand for tests, the United Kingdom government has promised to increase capacity and urged people only to get a test if they are showing symptoms.

The government is facing calls to explain why its test and trace system, described by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as "world-beating", is now struggling, six months after the pandemic became a national crisis. More testing slots and home testing kits have been made available as demand rises, she said.

Government figures showed 12% of pupils in England weren't in school last week, even after ministers ordered classes to restart for all studentsThe government closed a virus testing site to clear space for customs checks on trucks importing goods, which may be needed after the Brexit transition period ends in DecemberCovid infections are rising in the United Kingdom and 3,105 new cases were reported in a day, according to government figures Tuesday.

Government sources said they were working hard to increase lab capacity but that this could take weeks.

NHS leaders have called for health workers and patients to be given priority after Government sources admitted that demand for tests is now far outstripping supply. "Trust leaders from Bristol, Leeds and London have all raised concerns over the weekend about the lack of testing availability leading to greater levels of staff absence".

"The problem is that NHS trusts are working in the dark - they don't know why these shortages are occurring, how long they are likely to last, how geographically widespread they are likely to be and what priority will be given to healthcare workers and their families in accessing scarce tests".

"The whole House knows there are operational challenges and we're working hard to fix them", the health secretary said.

"I think there is a surge in demand (and) I think our stated capacity is very different from actually how many tests can be run in a given day", he said.


"I was supposed to see patients."


Labour's Meg Hillier (Hackney South and Shoreditch) said Deloitte staff told people they could not visit a walk-in test centre in her area, adding: "Over 90 people were turned away from one centre alone".

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Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday she was seeking "urgent discussions" with the United Kingdom government over delays in people receiving their test results.

She had taken screenshots of a confirmation code but was not sent to scan the QR code.

Sir John told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think what's going wrong is the second wave".

"I must say I burst into tears".

A nurse in the southwest, whose daughter was suffering from a chronic cough and temperature, said he was almost removed despite a test.

On reaching the test site, he was told he could not get the test.

In the end, he applied for the first test appointment he could find anywhere in the country - in this case, about 500 miles in Dundee - and managed to get a QR code.

Her 9-year-old daughter, Matilda, needs the test because she stayed home from school with cold symptoms on Thursday and Friday, and the school told her she couldn't return to class without a negative test.

He is urging the government to be "honest and open" over what is really happening.

Meanwhile, the president of the British Medical Association said the government should focus on the existing testing regime - rather than the "Moonshot Process" plan that aims to see millions of tests being processed every day using a new type of test that has yet to be rolled out. Authorities underestimated the speed at which more testing capacity would be needed, Bell said, warning that the problem could get worse.

Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said: "Our members are telling us that lack of access to testing for staff is a major barrier to them delivering services and achieving targets set to restore services".

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