HOME testing kits for coronavirus have run out again in just over an hour today – after new slots were released for all key workers.
It’s the fourth day running workers in need of tests haven’t been able to get the tests they need.
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More than ten million essential workers and their households are now able to get checked for COVID-19, as the Government races to hit their own 100,000 daily testing target by Thursday.
But for people who are live remotely or are too sick to get to a drive-through centre, there is very little capacity.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has blamed lack of demand, rather than lack of capacity, on not ramping up testing faster.
As of 9.05 this morning, home testing kits were “unavailable” on the gov.uk/coronavirus website.
Slots open daily at 8am.
People are still able to book to get tested at drive-through centres in England and Scotland, but slots in Wales and Northern Ireland were listed as unavailable.
To help hit Government testing targets, all health and social care workers, police officers, teachers, social workers, undertakers, journalists and supermarket and food production staff are now able to get tested.
Mr Hancock said any essential worker who could benefit from a test, will be able to get a test.
British Medical Association chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said there was no point setting up the online booking system if it didn’t have enough capacity.
He said: “What we found in the first two days was that within an hour the bookings had all been taken up, and therefore offered no practical help for large numbers of healthcare staff.”
“If the Government wants healthcare workers to have access to the test, it has to be in the context or providing adequate capacity, not a ‘first come, first served’ and closing within an hour.”
“That’s not delivering on the needs of our health and care staff.”
Dr Nagpaul added the testing capacity was “well, well short” of the number of healthcare staff currently self-isolating.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social care said “there has been significant demand for booking tests” and officials are “working hard” to increase availability.
Chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) Professor Peter Horby said the Government’s plans to focus on tracking and tracing new cases of infections would be a “real logistical challenge”.
Nervtag is one of the groups advising ministers on the coronavirus crisis.
Professor Horby told BBC Radio 4: “The test and trace capabilities are really going to be critical as we come out of lockdown.
“We will have to be able to test all those people (declaring via apps that they are displaying symptoms) and it is really a matter of scale and speed.
“One issue is how many tests we need, and if we are looking at 1,000 to 5,000 new cases per day of people with symptoms, of which 5 to 25 per cent may have COVID, then you are talking about 25,000 to 100,000 tests a day.”
Professor Horby also said the speed of results would be critical so people could know what action they need to take, and to trace their contacts if they do have coronavirus.
Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance stressed last week the test, track and trace programme would only work once numbers had fallen significantly.
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