Coronavirus UK: Expert warns COVID-19 has ‘free reign to spread’ until testing fixed

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Christina Pagel, a professor of Clinical Operational Research and a member of the Independent Sage Group, warned the UK is currently in a dangerous situation after a report of a lack of tests. Boris Johnson has defended the troubled Covid-19 testing system amid mounting fears of a fresh coronavirus crisis in care homes. Professor Pagel noted a majority of hotspots in the UK are without testing.

Speaking to LBC, Professor Pagel said: “We’re in an incredibly dangerous situation right now because we can’t test the people who need testing.

“We can’t see where cases are rising. For instance, 46 out of 48 hotspots couldn’t get any testing yesterday.

“We can’t chase their contacts and so we can’t control the virus that way.

“Until they fix the testing system its got a free reign to spread.”

Tests were not available for people with coronavirus symptoms in some of England’s worst affected areas on Wednesday.

Slots were offered in one of the 10 local authorities with the highest Covid-19 infection rates, as the testing system struggles to cope with soaring demand.

It was not possible to book a test in Bolton – which currently has the highest infection rate in England – on Wednesday morning, the PA news agency found.

But those trying to book a test in Hyndburn, which has the seventh-highest rate, were being offered a walk-through nearly 20 miles away in Bolton, with slots available at Mere Hall car park, according to the Government website.

As of midday, tests were not available in the local authority of Oadby and Wigston, in Leicestershire, which has the second-highest rate in England.

Tests were not available in other parts of the North West, where some areas remain under local restrictions.

On Wednesday morning, it was not possible to book a test in Preston, which has the third-highest infection rate in the country, and Oldham, which has the fourth.

Tests were also not available on the Government website in the remainder of 10 local authorities with surging cases, which are Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Tameside, Warrington and Knowsley.


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It was also not possible to book a slot in Liverpool, Wirral, Bury or Salford, which are all areas within the top 20 highest infection rates in England.

In St Helens, a drive-through test was offered at Royal Blackburn Hospital and a walk-through at a site in Farnworth, Bolton.

A drive-through test nearly 53 miles away at Uttoxeter Racecourse Stables car park was offered to those trying to book a test in Rochdale, as well as a walk-through at Railway Road car park in Darwen.

One woman who lives in Leicester, which recorded 306 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, one of the sharpest increases in any city in the UK, said she had been unable to book a test for her son.

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