‘Irresponsible’ and a ‘royal cock-up’ – Britons react to test supply issues

·4-min read

The dearth of coronavirus tests has been described as “irresponsible” and a “royal cock-up” by people desperate to get hold of one during the Christmas and new year period.

Revellers unable to find rapid lateral flows ahead of Friday’s celebrations and symptomatic patients who are struggling to order PCRs have vented their frustrations as the Prime Minister urged people to take more tests.

Ros, 60, has mild Covid-19 symptoms, and said she has been unable to support a friend who collapsed following chemotherapy because she has not been able to order a test before seeing her.

Ros, from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, told PA: “I have mild symptoms but couldn’t possibly visit my friend who has cancer and put her at risk.

“Fortunately another friend has stepped in and will be able to stay over with her – she collapsed after chemo today so she definitely needs someone with her.

“I’ll just have to keep checking for a PCR test. I have no idea how I could have caught Covid as I don’t go anywhere due to my own health – I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

“I’m hoping it’s just a bit of a cold but who knows until I get a PCR test?”

Mat Heywood, 47, described the supply situation as a “shit show” and said he is “livid” after waiting five days for a lateral flow test only for it to turn out negative.

Mr Heywood, a video editor based in West Yorkshire, told PA: “It’s just a shit show, isn’t it?

“I’m so livid they can’t sort this out at the same time as encouraging interaction at the most important family time of the year. Anyone with vulnerable relatives is shafted.”

Daniel Norris, 44, said himself, his wife and two sons – aged 10 and 12 – are suffering with Covid-19 symptoms, but they have been unable to order proper PCRs despite spending “several hours” on the Government website.

HEALTH Coronavirus Vaccinations
(PA Graphics)

Mr Norris, a tradesman from Cambridgeshire, told PA: “I started feeling unwell on Boxing Day and tested positive on a lateral flow the following morning.

“After spending several hours on the Government website trying to book a drive-in test for myself and my family, I gave up and opted for posted option that told me next day delivery.

“This arrived today, three days after placing the order. In that three days I have continued to try and arrange a drive-by test with no luck, receiving a message that there are none available in my area.

“Unfortunately my wife and two children are also now positive according to the lateral flow tests and we can’t get confirmation on PCR.

“Only one turned up in the post despite ordering four, and I can’t even register it as it’s not in my name apparently.

“No idea whose it is – it’s one huge royal cock-up and very frustrating.”

A Glaswegian writer who gave his name as PS Livingstone said he has been in contact with someone who has coronavirus, but there are no PCR tests available in his area.

Mr Livingstone, 40, criticised Boris Johnson’s “irresponsible” message for people to get tests before Friday night despite none being available.

He told PA: “It’s not great for my mental health. Both my partner and I have been extremely cautious throughout the pandemic, keeping our social circle small.

“It’s frustrating. NHS staff and related Covid-19 workers have been non-stop for a long time, so I appreciate they needed and deserved downtime.

“Equally, we’ve been hearing for a while that cases were likely to surge. With that prediction, I feel there should’ve been increased provision.

“I don’t get the impression testing facilities or lateral flow test deliveries have been increased.

“It’s irresponsible to ask people to test more, particularly with the change to isolation rules in England, and not improve availability to test.”

Mr Johnson has encouraged punters to enjoy New Year’s Eve in a “cautious and sensible way” by ordering a test and booking a booster jab – but pharmacies have warned of “huge” problems with lateral flow deliveries.

In a repeat of events in the weeks before Christmas, the Government website is also reporting that there are no PCR tests available for people – including key workers in England and Northern Ireland.

There are also “very few available” in Scotland, while people in Wales can order the tests online for now.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting also described the situation as a “total shambles” caused by “the Conservative government’s incompetence”.

The UK Health Security Agency has said tests may be temporarily unavailable on the Government website at points throughout the day due to “exceptionally high demand”, and urged people not to order more tests before using the ones they have.

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