People across the UK have been unable to get tests for COVID-19 because laboratories have reached a “critical pinch-point” in processing them
The director of COVID-19 testing at NHS Test and Trace, Sarah-Jane Marsh, has apologised for the unavailability of tests, saying “we are doing all we can to expand quickly”.
She went on to add that there are other facilities in the country that could process the coronavirus tests are due to “open up imminently”.
There have been further reports of members of the British public being told that there are no appointments available at coronavirus test centres throughout England and that there are no home tests kits available to be sent out.
This comes after Jim Harra, HMRC’s top civil servant, has said that his staff believe that between 5% and 10% of the furlough cash could have been handed out wrongly, either through deliberate fraud or through an error.
Ms Marsh tweeted on Tuesday: “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 in a follow up tweet: “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.”
38 year old Andy Thompson, a technical manager from Crewe, has said that his six-year-old daughter is home from school with a constant cough, but he has so far been unable to get her a home testing kit.
He said: “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.”
“I didn’t realise how bad it is. If you haven’t got a car, no way you’re getting tested.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Hundreds of thousands of people are being tested every day and new booking slots and home testing kits are being made available daily.”
“There is a high demand for tests and to help stop the spread of the virus we are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, as well as prioritising at-risk groups.”
“We have the capacity to test for coronavirus at an unprecedented scale. We are expanding capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October, increasing the number of testing sites and bringing in new technology to process results faster.”
This comes after Boris Johnson is reportedly planning new legislation that would override key parts of the withdrawal agreement, the treaty in which would seal the UK’s exit from the European Union in January, in a move that could risk collapsing trade deals, as reported by the Financial Times (FT).