Coronavirus: PM blames ‘colossal spike’ seeking trial problems


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PA Media

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People lined up for tests in Southampton

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended the coronovirus testing system, saying it is trying to meet the “colossal spike” in demand.

This comes after the government said it was preparing a list that would be given priority for testing.

Residents and employees of the care home are likely to top the list, as Mr Johnson acknowledged that ministers were concerned about the infection rate.

The PM told MPs that a new “action plan” for care homes will be released this week.

Earlier, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said schools could be considered for priority testing.

According to government figures, on Wednesday, cases of coronovirus in Britain increased by 3,991, bringing the total to 378,219.

Another 20 people were killed within 28 days of testing positive for Kovid-19. This brings the UK’s death to 41,684 by this criterion.

Mr Johnson said that 89% of those who have in-test tests meet them the next day.

He told the Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday: “I think most people who look at this country’s record in giving tests in this country will see that it actually compares very well with any other European country. ”

The PM promised that by the end of June, individual examination results will be returned to all within 24 hours.

He acknowledged disappointment around the demand for tests, but said that capacity being increased, the government wants to conduct 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.

Mr Johnson acknowledged “we are concerned about the rates of infection in care homes” and promised to release a new action plan for the region this week.

Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Renner, stood for Sir Keir Starr at PMQ because Sir Keir was self-isolated due to a family member showing symptoms and was awaiting the results of a test, which has since been negative. Has returned as.

He said that MPs Mr Johnson needed to “get some skates” to address the issues.

“Those care workers are still not getting the PPE they need, they are still not getting the tests they need,” she said.

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Media captionAngela Rainer accused the PM of blaming others for their “incompetence” for a second coronovirus wave. “

Ms Rainer also said the prime minister had pledges on the test “time and again”, but “then breaks those promises”.

“He has six months to get this right and yet the Prime Minister has still not been able to keep his promises,” she said.

“The health secretary said that it will take several weeks to resolve this situation tomorrow. We do not have weeks.”

Earlier, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told BBC Breakfast that a plan to top the NHS for coronovirus trials would be published in the coming days.

Robert Buckland said that caregivers in homes would also be a priority, while schools could be considered.

He also said that the testing centers would increase from about 400 to 500 in the next few weeks.

Elsewhere, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that each school could order more test kits than today, with each given 10 at the beginning of term.

What is causing the delay?

Increased demand for coronavirus tests has led to local shortages, with many having reported problems with securing online bookings and directing test sites hundreds of miles from home.

Large lighthouse laboratories, run by the government to analyze test swabs from all countries in the UK, are under stress to process them all.

The BBC’s health editor, Hugh Pime, said test slots are limited because there seem to be enough test sites, where there are bottlenecks in labs for processing swabs.

A new lab is due to get up and running but it may be a few weeks away – and by then ministers say the current problems are likely to continue.

The Bolton NHS Trust in Greater Manchester said more than 100 people turned up for an accident and emergency for a trial on Tuesday.

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Media captionMatt Hancock: “We’re working around the clock to make sure that everyone can get a test they need”

Data on the backlog at the lab are not publicly available, but Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons on Tuesday that it was “below one day capacity”. This means that it can be up to 244,000.

The Department of Health has said that about a quarter of people requesting tests have no need to do so – and only those with relevant symptoms should book.

What problems are the schools facing?

Some were closed for a few days after reopening, while others told classes and whole-year groups – many of which make a bubble – self-isolate for two weeks after confirmed cases for.

In order to keep the schools open, the teaching unions have called for giving priority to the education sector for the allocation of tests.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said it would become “unstable” if testing capacity issues were not fixed to keep schools open.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs on Wednesday that he insisted Baroness Harding, head of Britain’s testing system, preferred schools.

People struggling to get a test

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Scott winning

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Cafe owner Scott Winning and his wife worry about the delayed trial that they will have to shut down their family business

On Saturday, Scott Winning’s daughter fell ill with temperature. As of Sunday, the rest of the family, who live near Dunstable in Bedfordshire, had also developed symptoms.

“We’ve tried hundreds of times,” he told the BBC about trying to book a test. “We started the Sunday test and book test for our daughter, to no avail, and then Monday morning at 08:00 for all of us.”

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At one point Scott was offered a test through the government website in Warwickshire, 65 miles from his home. But by the time he recorded the details of his family of four, the blanks had disappeared.

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Media captionBBC spoke to people trying to conduct tests at a center in Oldham

How many tests are being done?

According to Monday’s government data, approximately 220,000 tests are conducted each day.

The government said that its UK laboratory daily testing capacity was more than 370,000 compared to the previous week – including antibody tests and tests used by scientists to estimate how widespread the virus is.

The test capacity (excluding antibody testing and virus proliferation testing) is approximately 245,000 a day.

Government data shows that both testing capacity and laboratory capacity have increased significantly since the onset of the epidemic, with the aim to increase capacity to 500,000 per day by the end of October.

However, there is a large difference between how many tests laboratories are able to process (“capacity”) and the number of tests that are actually processed.

Analysis in data from Our World, the research team at Oxford University, shows that Britain is now testing more than many other countries.

For example, a seven-day average as of 10 September shows that the UK performed 2.8 tests per 1,000 people. It was ahead of European countries including France (2.1) and Spain and Germany (both 1.8).

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