Health

Coronavirus testing nightmare as people with symptoms forced to drive 100 miles from London to WALES for test

PEOPLE with coronavirus symptoms are being forced to drive over 100 miles to testing centres across the UK.

Areas with fewer cases of the virus had their capacity reduced so that more swabs could be provided to areas with higher case loads.

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Experts have warned that this could miss new cases as some areas ration their tests to deal with demand.

The government website allows people who need to get a coronavirus test to chose the location closest to them.

Due to the rationing of tests some people are being forced to drive to different towns and cities in order to access the tests.

The BBC reported that a postcode search on the government website revealed that people in London were having to drive to Cardiff in Wales and the Isle of Wight, undertaking journeys between 50 and 100 miles.

People with symptoms in Devon are having to drive 109 miles to Carmarthen.

GEOFF ROBINSON.

People are having to drive for miles to receive a coronavirus swab test [/caption]

Those with symptoms in Cumbria could also be forced to drive 50 miles to Dumfries.

It also showed that people in Worthing would have to drive 40 miles, while people in Sheffield would need to drive 20 miles to get test.

But the government’s calculation of mileage has been calculated as the crow flies and is not an accurate representation of how far away each destination is.

For example, Google Maps states that London to the Isle of Wight would be a 89.8 mile trip.

The Devon to Carmarthen trip was also longer than predicted and Google Maps states that this would actually be a 206-mile drive.

The main coronavirus symptoms are a new persistent cough, a high temperature and a loss of taste and smell.

Experts have said that forcing patients to drive these long journeys would be a “huge undertaking” for those who are suffering severely.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast today, Dr Zoe Norris said she has patients who would not be able to to drive those long distances.

The Department for Health and Social Care’s website is currently showing a warning to people who are trying to secure a slot.

It states: “This service is currently very busy. If you are unable to book a test now or the location and time is not convenient for you, please try again in a few hours when more tests should be available.

“If no tests are available online, do not call helplines to get a test. You will not be able to get a test through the helplines.”

Despite the delays the department claims that test capacity is at 350,000 a day.

In a statement it said: “There is a high demand for tests and our laboratories continue to turn test results around as quickly as possible.

“To make sure we stay in control of this virus we are targeting our testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, as well as prioritising at-risk groups.”

 

 

One public health expert said the long drives might put people off getting a test.

Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia said this process could lead to missing cases “early enough to maybe stop more widespread infection”.

People who have symptoms can apply for home testing kits but the results from these can take longer to process.

Data from NHS Test and Trace showed that in the week of 13-19 August 41 per cent of drive-through centres gave results in 24 hours.

The week before this was 61 per cent.

Matt Hancock recently told Times Radio that mass testing would be the norm by the end of this year.

He said around 100 different companies have come forward with new tests.

“We are constantly testing those and verifying them, that they work and that they are effective.”

He said they have been able to verify three so far.

He said testing was also about giving people confidence that they have a negative test.

“Until now our testing programme focused on finding the virus and clinical needs.

“But we can also use testing to give people confidence that they can go about their business.”

He added that until we have a vaccine, social distancing and testing are the tools we have to keep people safe.

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