PUBLIC health bosses in Coventry have admitted England’s coronavirus testing system is ‘overwhelmed’ by demand.
The government is considering creating ‘priority groups’ for coronavirus tests, as the numbers of people booking them soars.
NHS staff, care home residents and schoolchildren would be top of the queue, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told MPs today (September 16).
Meanwhile. a public health officer at Coventry City Council revealed a bottleneck of laboratory samples is to blame for a lack of capacity.
Harmony Lully, support officer to Coventry Director of Public Health Liz Gaulton, said the local authority is limited in the help it can offer.
Ms Lully told councillors: “All testing facilities are owned by Department of Health and Social Care and not the local authority.
“Whilst Coventry is well served for places to get a test with drive through sites at Ricoh and Moat Street car park and a walk through site in Foleshill, it is pressure on the laboratory capacity that is causing the current situation of a national shortage of tests.
“Unfortunately the system is overwhelmed at the moment by the sheer number of people wanting tests.
“Plus the issues nationally with lab capacity are to a degree hampered by a national focus on hotspot areas. The current national position is to target testing at people who are symptomatic only.
“We have raised this issue at a national level and we are assured that everyone is working hard to increase capacity. As this is a national service, there is a limit to what help we can offer at this time.”
Parents looking to book tests for children who are showing Covid-19 symptoms have said they are facing keeping them out of school without knowing if they are infectious.
One Coundon father, who asked his name not be published, said he had tried for two days to book a test.
The website for booking test either crashed or showed that ‘no tests sites [can be] found.’
Testing facilities at Broad Street medical centre and Moat Street car park were accepting a steady flow of patients today (September 16).
Those who want a test must book ahead, and public health agencies have warned patients not to go to a test centre without a booking.