People are being asked to travel hundreds of miles for coronavirus tests

Friday, 4th September 2020, 5:07 pm
Updated Friday, 4th September 2020, 5:08 pm
The demand has created a backlog of tests. (Photo: Shutterstock)
The demand has created a backlog of tests. (Photo: Shutterstock)

UK labs are struggling to keep up with coronavirus testing demand, meaning people are being asked to get tested far from home.

It has emerged that some people have been asked to travel hundreds of miles in order to get a coronavirus test.

Currently, 170,000 tests are being conducted a day - up from 100,000 in mid-June.

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Those in charge of the testing system have now apologised for the situation, though they have insisted that the majority of people could still get appointments close to home.

High-risk areas are currently being prioritised by the test booking website. This includes towns and cities with high infection rates and care homes.

As a result, there are restricted numbers of home testing kits available as well as fewer booking slots at local testing centres for those in low-risk areas.

Currently, officials say they're working to fix the issue, with a new lab facility set to open in the coming weeks.

Officials say that by Friday, nobody would be asked to travel over 75 miles to get a test.

Prof Paul Hunter, a public health expert at the University of East Anglia, told the BBC that the problem would be a "big disincentive to being tested", possibly leading to local increases in cases which could slip beneath the radar.

Currently, around 175,000 tests per day are being processed - a figure the government says is higher per head than many other countries.

The network of testing labs across the UK are reportedly able to process around 250,000 tests a day.

The government has said the system has faced issues in part because of mixed demand across the week - with weekends less popular than weekdays. This has created a backlog of tests.

In order to curb demand, the availability of testing slots at centres has been decreased in order to ensure high risk areas can be prioritised.

Recent data suggests that the average turnaround time for tests is 24 hours or less in the case of mobile testing units and local testing centres.

The government said booking slots do open throughout the day, so if people keep trying they should be able to find a closer location for a test, or order a home test.