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People can't get coronavirus tests because of a huge backlog at labs

The head of NHS Test and Trace has apologised to those unable to book a test for coronavirus, saying that labs to process them have reached a ‘critical pinch-point’.

Sarah-Jane Marsh said: ‘Can I please offer my heartfelt apologies to anyone who cannot get a COVID test at present.

‘All of our testing sites have capacity, which is why they don’t look overcrowded, it’s our laboratory processing that is the critical pinch-point. We are doing all we can to expand quickly.

‘We have additional NHS, Lighthouse, University and Partner Labs all due to open-up imminently and we are also expanding the use of non-Laboratory based tests.

‘The Testing Team work on this 18 hours a day, 7 days a week.

‘We recognise the country is depending on us.’

Yesterday we reported how some people were receiving an error message when they applied to get a coronavirus test, while others had been told to travel hundreds of miles to their nearest centre with capacity.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said new guidance meant people would not be asked to travel more than 75 miles to get a test.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said yesterday: ‘Hundreds of thousands of people are being tested every day and new booking slots and home testing kits are being made available daily.

‘There is a high demand for tests and to help stop the spread of the virus we are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, as well as prioritising at-risk groups.

‘We have the capacity to test for coronavirus at an unprecedented scale.’

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