Coronavirus: UK government again runs out of home testing kits after just over one hour

Key workers and households are able to use booking system online

Zoe Tidman
Monday 27 April 2020 10:35
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Up to six million UK residents may have already had coronavirus NHS adviser says

The UK government has run out of coronavirus home testing kits in just over an hour.

Key workers could no longer order any online by 9.10am on Monday – the fourth day in a row where tests have become unavailable within hours of the booking system opening.

The kits ran out around two minutes after the service launched on Friday, and people were reportedly told there were none left on Saturday morning after around 15 minutes.

As of 10am on Sunday, home testing kits for England were listed as “unavailable” on the government’s website – two hours after booking slots reopened.

More than 10 million key workers and their households are now eligible for Covid-19 tests as officials race to hit their 100,000-a-day target by Thursday.

Home testing kits – as well as slots at drive-through testing sites – will become available from 8am each day, the Department of Health has said, with their release staggered throughout the day.

The system has been criticised by the chairman of the British Medical Association, who said tests should not be available on a “first come first serve” basis for key workers.

“There is no point putting forward a proposal unless it's matched with adequate capacity,” Dr Chaand Nagpaul said.

“What we found in the first two days was that within an hour the bookings had all been taken up, and therefore offered no practical help for large numbers of healthcare staff, who found the website had effectively closed to bookings.

Dr Nagpaul added: “If the government wants healthcare workers to have access to the test, it has to be in the context or providing adequate capacity, not a ‘first come first served’ and closing within an hour.”

The government is “working hard” to increase the availability of Covid-19 tests through the online service, according to a health ministry spokesperson.

“There has been significant demand for booking tests,” they said.

“[Slots are] determined by a number of factors including overall capacity of the testing system and how many test kits we send to those most in need, for example in care homes.”

More than 152,800 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK to date, according to government figures released on Sunday.

The death toll for hospitalised patients was 20,732 as of Saturday afternoon, the health ministry said.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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