Operation Moonshot plan for ten million Covid tests a day in chaos as test shortages across UK branded a ‘bloody mess’

CRIPPLING Covid test shortages across the country have left the Operation Moonshot plan for ten million swabs a day in chaos.

Huge queues formed at testing centres as MPs branded the system a “bloody mess”.

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Huge queues formed at testing centres across the country
PA:Press Association

People faced a long queue at a coronavirus testing facility in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham[/caption]

Swabs for many were rationed as Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted the crisis will last into winter.

No tests were available in 46 out of 48 of the nation’s worst hotspots as the fiasco spiralled.

Sites in Southend, Bury, Birmingham and Manchester were overwhelmed with families desperately trying to get tests to allow them to get back to work or school.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted the crippling shortages will last into winter.

Mercury Press

No tests were available in 46 out of 48 of the nation’s worst hotspots as the fiasco spiralled[/caption]

Camera Press

Covid testing centres in Gorton faced huge queues [/caption]


Sites in Bury were also overwhelmed[/caption]

And a backlog of 240,000 tests has now built up which will not be cleared until deep into autumn or beyond — when millions of people will be at risk of cold and flu symptoms similar to coronavirus.

The breakdown in the system has also left doctors, nurses, care home residents and teachers all unable to get checked for the killer virus.

It comes days after Downing Street committed to Operation Moonshot.

Under the ambitious plan, up to ten million people a day would be checked using a new kind of test which would deliver immediate results like a pregnancy check.

But this test has not been developed yet, leaving ministers reliant on existing tests which can take up to a week to return results.The strain on the system has been triggered by a sharp rise in people seeking tests.

It follows the national return to schools and concerns for pupils, ­parents and teachers. Ineligible people have also been misusing the system.

Ministers have urged the public to be sensible and get a swab only if symptomatic to help ease the crisis.




The strain on the system has been triggered by a sharp rise in people seeking tests[/caption]


This woman was forced to use an umbrella to shelter from the sun as she waited for a coronavirus test in Bury[/caption]


Angry MPs called the system a ‘bloody mess’ after queues snaked outside testing centres[/caption]

Mr Hancock was forced to restrict testing to hospital patients, care home residents and key workers and said: “I don’t shirk from decisions about prioritisation.

“They are not always comfortable, but they are important.

“We’ll set out an updated prioritisation and I do not rule out further steps to make sure our tests are used according to those priorities.”

Angry MPs called the system a “bloody mess” after queues snaked outside testing centres.

Hundreds lined up at a walk-in unit in Southend, Essex, but it had reportedly run out of tests by 10am.

Scores of residents were unable to get swabbed at facilities in Gorton, Manchester.

Sites in Bury and Sutton Coldfield were also overwhelmed

PA:Press Association

Matt Hancock insisted he was optimistic despite the scenes across the country[/caption]

PA:Press Association

A worried looking staff member spoke to a visitor at a coronavirus testing facility in Sutton Coldfield[/caption]


This man arrived at a walk-in test facility in Bolton[/caption]

In Abercynon, South Wales, officials turned away cars from as far away as Essex, London and Brighton.

A healthcare worker at the site said: “The poor sods looked knackered when they arrived. Some of the long haulers hadn’t made an appointment either, so we weren’t able to give them the test.”

Mahmoon Rasheed, 34, of Nottingham, was forced to book a test in Edinburgh for his daughter Husnah, eight, after she developed mild coronavirus symptoms and her school advised her and her siblings to isolate.

He said: “I took a slot hundreds of miles away. It’s important I send my kids to school after six months off.” In Cambridge, locals complained at being forced to drive hundreds of miles for a test — while a local centre sits empty.

Mr Hancock insisted he was optimistic and revealed experts were working on technology which could speed up test results.

More than 200,000 are being processed daily — with care homes using up around half. Capacity is set to grow to 500,000 a day by late October.

But a government source said it won’t be able to offer a check to everyone who wants one for “a very long time”.

Experts said labs were working fine. One suggested there are “clearly underlying issues which nobody wants to tell us about”. Tory MP Jason McCartney told ministers they should have sorted the existing testing before Operation Moonshot.


Staff have said they are struggling to swab everyone that visits test centres[/caption]

And parents group Netmums warned families are at “breaking point” because of the testing fiasco.

Prof James Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, said: “The rise in cases we have seen and the imposition of a rule of six, is precisely what an effective test, trace and isolate system with public health measures should have avoided.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “NHS Test and Trace is working, we are processing over a million tests a week but we are seeing a significant demand for tests, including from people who do not have symptoms and are not otherwise eligible. We’re targeting testing capacity at areas that need it most.”

Parents and pupils suffer

By Steve Chalke, Founder of the Oasis Trust, which runs 52 schools

I HAD a single mum ring me up in tears telling me how her son had gone down with all the coronavirus symptoms.

He can’t go back to school for two weeks, so she can’t go to work and that means she doesn’t have any money.

She rang the Covid-19 NHS test centre numerous times and when she finally got through was told to go online. She spent most of Saturday trying to make the site work. It didn’t.

She got up extra early on Sunday, still with no joy.

From Facebook comments, she realised this was very common so eventually gave up.

Once this mother, who lives in South London, did get a spot in a test centre, it was miles away from her home, and she doesn’t have a car.

This story is being repeated up and down the country for both staff and pupils — not just in the Oasis Trust’s 52 schools, but in thousands of others.

Just over six days into the new school year, we have had to send home 1,200 pupils out of 31,500. The reason is either pupils or teachers have symptoms, and can’t return until they get a negative test result.

In Waterloo, in London, we have 12 teachers off due to one member of staff displaying symptoms. They can’t get a test.

As a result, following government policy, two whole year groups are off and 240 kids are missing out on education. It is time to carry out regular testing for Covid-19 on-site at all schools, because we can’t have pupils and staff travelling miles to be swabbed. And those results need to be rapid.

In other countries, results come back in 24 hours, which is what is necessary. You need to test all of the school’s staff and children all the time.

Without that, we have chaos.

As the winter approaches, more and more pupils and staff will have coughs and colds.

It isn’t feasible for them to be away from school for two weeks every time.

The country is losing control of the virus, let’s not lose control of our education as well.

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