Boris Johnson has been accused of making “grand promises” after MPs in Hull claimed the city has been waiting two weeks to receive 10,000 coronavirus tests.
On Monday, the prime minister appeared in the House of Commons via video-link to announce that England’s three COVID-19 tiers will be toughened up after the national lockdown ends on 2 December. However, he warned of a third national lockdown in January if cases “flare up”.
But the prime minister has come under fire from MPs in Hull who say the area has not received a single one of the 10,000 rapid lateral flow COVID-19 tests that were promised, despite having the highest infection rate in the country.
However, the Department of Health and Social Care denied that there had been delays in sending the tests.
A spokeswoman said on Tuesday: “There has been no delays in delivering tests to Hull. We have requested the delivery information from the local authority and once this is received the tests will be sent.”
Watch: Hull has highest COVID rate in England
On 9 November, the government announced that 67 areas of England, including Hull, would each receive 10,000 kits as part of a testing expansion. The tests give results within 30 minutes.
Karl Turner, Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull East, tweeted on Monday: “Boris Johnson is boasting again about the so called ‘rapid’ lateral flaw [sic] tests but Hull were offered 10K of these more than two weeks ago yet we still haven’t received a single test.”
.@BorisJohnson is boasting again about the so called ‘rapid’ lateral flaw tests but #Hull were offered 10K of these more than 2 weeks ago yet we still haven’t received a single test.There isn’t anything ‘rapid’ about it if they don’t pysically arrive. Where are they @MattHancock?
— Karl Turner MP (@KarlTurnerMP) November 23, 2020
And later in the Commons, Johnson was challenged by Dame Diana Johnson, Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull North.
“Hull has had the highest COVID infection rate in the United Kingdom, and two weeks ago Hull was promised 10,000 lateral flow tests, but today they have still not arrived,” she said.
“So when governing during a global pandemic, shouldn’t the prime minister focus on delivering on the ground what has already been announced, rather than grand new promises lifted from the Downing Street PR grid?”
Johnson replied that he would “take up immediately” the point raised about Hull and “try to understand why they haven’t got the lateral flow tests she rightly wants to see”.
The Department of Health and Social Care has been approached for comment.
The latest weekly figures for COVID-19 rates, published on Monday evening, showed that Hull has the highest infection rate in England.
In the seven days to 19 November, 1,477 new cases were recorded there, the equivalent of 568 cases per 100,000 people.
This was down from a rate of 779 per 100,000 in the seven days to 12 November.
Swale in Kent, which had the highest rate in England for a short period, was second, up slightly from 531 to 565 per 100,000, with 848 new cases.
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