England’s Covid-19 testing scheme has come in for further criticism after people from London were told to make a 300 mile round trip to Wales for tests.
Southwark News reported on the case of a mother whose three-year-old who had been offered a test in Cardiff, despite her home in Nunhead being only miles from a big testing centre at Greenwich’s O2.
The family eventually managed to get a test twenty minutes away, and Kirsty’s daughter was confirmed as negative two days later.
“I, however, feel scared and angry,” her mother told the site. “Anyone with young children could tell you that they get sick at this time of year.
“It was wholly predictable that as we hit autumn and schools go back there would be a surge in demand for tests.
“If things don’t improve, then at best kids will be repeatedly missing out on school time they so desperately need while waiting for tests that will eventually be negative.
“At worst, when parents are asked to battle the system and drive hundreds of miles with a sick child for the third or fourth time, they will give up [and] children who really do have Covid will be sent to school.”
Others in London have been told to go to drive-in or walk-in centres in the Isle of Wight, Glasgow, and Oldham, which is under heightened coronavirus restrictions, Southwark News said.
The government has said the booking website is prioritising higher-risk areas, which means there is a shortage of booking slots at local centres in lower-risk areas.
Yesterday Labour leader Keir Starmer demanded to know why 75,000 coronavirus tests “are not being used every day”, as people are sent hundreds of miles to get one.
In Commons clashes, he accused Boris Johnson of “ignoring the problem” and of failing to give “honest answers” about the deep problems the test-and-trace system is facing.
“It’s got a lot worse in the last week or two – everybody in this House knows it, because they’ve all had constituents, telling them,” he warned the prime minister.
“The latest government figures were updated last night. They show that, on average, 75,000 tests are not being used every day.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock warned the testing problems could take “weeks” to fix yesterday.
“We’ve had a problem with a couple of contracts. It’s a matter of a couple of weeks until we can get all of that sorted,” he told a committee of MPs.
He added: “We’ve already put in [place] certain solutions to ensure people don’t have to travel more than 75 miles.
“I appreciate 75 miles is far longer than you’d want to go, but the majority of tests are much closer.”