People from area with worst Covid-19 rates in England having to travel into Wales for tests

© Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

People from the area with the worst Covid-19 rates in England, which is currently under a local lockdown, are having to travel 90 miles into Wales for a Covid-19 test.

Bolton is the local authority with the highest number of new cases per 100,000 people in England. The borough has recorded  564 new cases in the seven days to September 12.

However, people from Bolton have told of how they are having to travel down to Newtown in Powys for tests to confirm that they have coronavirus due to the UK Government’s “diabolical” testing system.

The wife, 63, and husband, 64, told the Bolton News they had been trying to book a test since Sunday, trying at all times of the day with only Doncaster being given as an option.

However, after trying through Monday to get a test appointment online at a site in Bolton, they were eventually offered a test at a site in Newtown, Powys.

“My husband was off work so I was trying on my phone and he had it up on his laptop trying to get a test after we both developed a cough,” she said.

“Our daughter is heavily pregnant so we want to make sure we were not putting her in danger.

“It took us nearly two and a half hours in the car. When we got there it was only a pop-up place in a car park and was really quiet. We were given a home testing kit through the window and told to do it ourselves, we could have done it completely wrong.

“We’ve come all this way to do this test because we’re worried about our daughter who is expecting a baby in November, just trying to do the right thing, I just couldn’t believe what we had to do when we got here.

“When you put in a Bolton postcode it doesn’t come up with anywhere in the north west, it just says everywhere is busy.

“It’s an absolute scandal, the website is definitely not fit for purpose, we’re just fortunate we had the resources to get there but we were so incensed when we got there and there were only another five cars or so. It didn’t look busy at all.

“It makes you wonder who is even getting a test in Bolton.”

 

‘Action’

Bolton was placed under a new local lockdown last Tuesday.

Pubs, bars and restaurants in Bolton will only be able to operate as takeaways and will be forced to close their doors under a 10pm curfew, in a significant escalation of coronavirus restrictions in the area, England’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

The health secretary also said current guidance that people cannot socialise outside their households will be put into law in the Greater Manchester borough because of a surge in Covid-19 cases.

In a statement in the Commons, Mr Hancock said that Bolton has the highest case rate in the country with 120 cases per 100,000 population, and he claimed the rise was “largely due to socialising by people in their twenties and thirties”.

The cabinet minister said: “Through our contact tracing system we’ve identified a number of pubs at which the virus has spread significantly. We are therefore taking the following action in Bolton, starting immediately.

“We will restrict all hospitality to takeaways only and we will introduce a late-night restriction of operating hours, which will mean all venues will be required to close from 10pm until 5am.

“We’ll introduce urgently further measures that put the current guidance that people cannot socialise outside the household into law.”

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