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Media captionBaroness Harding: It’s “fairly exhausting to present you an correct determine” on the extent of demand for coronavirus exams

Demand for coronavirus testing is “considerably outstripping the capability we’ve”, head of NHS Check and Hint Baroness Harding has instructed MPs.

She instructed the science and know-how committee that the return to highschool meant take a look at demand in England from under-17s had doubled.

She additionally acknowledged that outcomes had been additionally taking “barely longer”.

However she stated she was “very assured” of elevating capability to 500,000 exams a day by the top of October.

“I’m sure we are going to want extra as we transcend the top of October. We have now plans to transcend 500,000 a day,” Baroness Harding stated, earlier than including there was no formal goal past the October deadline.

The take a look at and hint programme has come underneath growing stress in latest days, with experiences of individuals unable to entry exams or being directed to check centres many miles away.

Figures revealed on Thursday additionally confirmed the turnaround time for neighborhood exams was getting longer. Solely a 3rd of those exams got here again in 24 hours within the week as much as 9 September, in comparison with two-thirds every week earlier.

It comes because the UK reported one other 3,395 confirmed instances of coronavirus, and an extra 21 deaths had been recorded inside 28 days of a optimistic take a look at.

The variety of individuals calling 119 and visiting the web site to e book exams was three to 4 occasions the variety of obtainable exams, Baroness Harding instructed the committee – though she stated which will exaggerate the issue as some individuals name repeatedly from totally different numbers.

Committee chairman Greg Clark stated it was “dispiriting” that regardless of the “totally predictable” circumstances of the return to varsities and places of work “we have not had the correct capability put in place”.

Baroness Harding stated they constructed the testing capability for this autumn – which is now 242,817 a day – based mostly on modelling from the Sage scientific advisory group.

“I do not assume anyone was anticipating to see the actually sizable improve in demand that has occurred over the previous couple of weeks,” she stated.

In Sunderland, in the meantime, greater than 100 individuals had been left ready at an empty automobile park the place they stated they’d been booked in for Covid-19 testing, though no employees or tools was there.

Bolton Council, which faces the best ranges of an infection nationally, stated it was “extremely pissed off” after issues with the nationwide reserving system led to lengthy queues and other people with appointments being turned away.

Comparable issues had been reported in Lewisham, south London, the place the method to the centre was “gridlocked”.

Baroness Harding stated testing was restricted by the laboratory processing capability, and that they needed to prohibit the variety of individuals at centres as a result of it will be “very harmful” to ship too many samples to the laboratory that will then go untested.

An NHS Check and Hint survey confirmed 27% of individuals searching for exams had no signs however had solely been involved with an contaminated particular person. Checks ought to solely be offered for members of the general public with a steady cough, a excessive temperature or a change in sense of odor or style.

“We do not wish to push away people who find themselves scared,” Baroness Harding stated. However she added that they have to “shield the capability we’ve for the individuals who most want it”.

The present priorities for testing are NHS sufferers, NHS employees and care residence residents and employees. Collectively these account for 50% of testing, she stated.

After that, areas with critical outbreaks are given precedence. Baroness Harding stated they had been placing key employees subsequent, notably academics, “however work remains to be ongoing”.

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