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Coronavirus testing system 'falling over'

PUBLISHED

People across England have told BBC News they are struggling to access coronavirus tests.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last week that no-one should have to travel more than 75 miles for a test, after the BBC revealed some were being sent hundreds of miles away.

But dozens have now reported being unable to book a swab at all.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said testing capacity was targeted at the hardest-hit areas.

A significant rise in demand for testing led the government to reduce the number of appointments available in areas of lower prevalence, to prioritise areas with outbreaks. This in turn led to people applying for tests being directed to centres sometimes hundreds of miles away.

But last Thursday Mr Hancock pledged to put in "immediate" solutions to make sure people did not have to travel more than 75 miles, effective from last Friday. Since then, postcodes entered into the government's booking system return a message suggesting there are no testing centres or home kits available - even if you are an essential worker with symptoms.

Frances, in Suffolk, tried to apply for a test when her daughter developed a high temperature. She didn't think it was coronavirus but "the rules are the rules". She had understood that anyone with a temperature should apply for a test, and was not able to send either of her children to school until she did.

"Their teachers need to be kept safe, their classmates need to be kept safe, we need to do the right thing," she said.

But Frances was also not able to get a home kit, and when she tried to get an appointment at a drive-through centre was told no test sites were found.

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Source: BBC News, 12 September 2020

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