Coronavirus tests available in just ‘two of England’s top 48 hotspots’

Coronavirus tests were only available in two of England’s top virus hotspots yesterday, reports say. 

An LBC investigation found people were unable to book walk-in, drive-through or home tests in nearly all of the country’s most infected areas, despite repeated government promises to deliver a ‘world-beating’ system.

Slots could only be found in the north-west of England at centres in Liverpool and the Wirral.

It was earlier reported that no tests were available in any of England’s top 10 coronavirus hotspots on Monday.

But LBC now report they couldn’t get a test in 46 of the country’s 48 worst affected areas.

The damning report will pile even more pressure on Boris Johnson as the system struggles to cope with soaring demand.

Some people have even been turning up to accident and emergency to ask for Covid-19 tests.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said on Tuesday that a ‘high volume’ of patients arrived to the A&E requesting tests.

Trust chair Professor Donna Hall said people in Bolton – which has the highest infection rate in England – had been trying to get tests via their GPs and the hospital when they could not get them online or at mobile testing units.

She told BBC Radio Four’s The World Tonight: ‘We had 100 people in our accident and emergency unit today, five ambulances queuing outside.

‘This failure of the test and trace system is placing huge pressure on the NHS and social care.’

Prof Hall said the situation now is different to March when they had extra staff drafted in and were not expected to continue with planned operations.

She said: ‘We’re seeing wards full of people. We’ve now got 30 people who are Covid-positive and we’ve got five people in our high dependency unit so this is not going away, this virus is not going away.’

Asked if there was more that could have been done to avoid this situation, she said: ‘I’ve felt that there has been a real lack of a cohesive strategy for the whole containment of Covid-19 and for test and trace.’

The stinging criticism comes ahead of the Prime Minister’s appearance in the Commons, where he will face senior MPs who are likely to question him on the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted that it might be ‘a matter of weeks’ before the testing problems are resolved, and on Tuesday announced that tests in England will be rationed.

He said there would be ‘prioritisation’ of tests for people with acute clinical need and those in social care settings as he acknowledged ‘operational challenges’ in the system.

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