Connect with us

Latest Stories

Venezuela’s government is responsible for crimes against humanity, UN investigators claim 

Published

on

venezuelas government is responsible for crimes against humanity un investigators claim

The government of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has committed crimes against humanity including torture and murder, independent experts commissioned by the UN have claimed.

The experts issued a report that says the people responsible for crimes that include extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture must be held to account, in part to ensure they do not happen again. 

The findings, based on nearly 3,000 cases that were investigated or examined, concluded that Mr Maduro and his defence and interior ministers were aware of crimes committed by security forces and intelligence agencies.

It further alleged that high-level authorities had both power and oversight over the forces and agencies, making the top officials responsible.

This handout photo released by the Venezuelan Presidency shows Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro delivering a speech at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, on April 23, 2019

This handout photo released by the Venezuelan Presidency shows Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro delivering a speech at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, on April 23, 2019

This handout photo released by the Venezuelan Presidency shows Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro delivering a speech at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, on April 23, 2019

Mr Maduro’s government has come under increasing political pressure from the United States and dozens of other countries which consider Juan Guaido the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

Mr Maduro has called this a plot to overthrow him so the US can exploit Venezuela’s oil wealth.

The 411-page report for the Human Rights Council represents an extensive look at rights violations in Venezuela and was based on interviews with alleged victims, relatives, witnesses, police, government officials and judges, as well as videos, satellite imagery and social media content.

The authors said they did not receive responses from the government itself. 

Venezuelan security forces clash with supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on the Venezuelan side of the Francisco de Paula Santander International Bridge on February 25, 2019. A UN report has found that Mr Maduro was aware of crimes committed by security forces and intelligence agencies

Venezuelan security forces clash with supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on the Venezuelan side of the Francisco de Paula Santander International Bridge on February 25, 2019. A UN report has found that Mr Maduro was aware of crimes committed by security forces and intelligence agencies

Venezuelan security forces clash with supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on the Venezuelan side of the Francisco de Paula Santander International Bridge on February 25, 2019. A UN report has found that Mr Maduro was aware of crimes committed by security forces and intelligence agencies

Marta Valinas, Francisco Cox Vial and Paul Seils worked under a fact-finding mission for the Geneva-based rights council set up last September to investigate violations in Venezuela over the past five years.

‘These acts were committed pursuant to two state policies, one to quash opposition to the government and another to combat crime, including by eliminating individuals perceived as criminals,’ Mr Valinas told reporters.

‘We also consider that the documented crimes were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population.’ 

Powered by: Daily Mail

Latest Stories

Woman who smashed glass in face of Miss England finalist in bar row is spared jail

Published

on

By

woman who smashed glass in face of miss england finalist in bar row is spared jail

A businesswoman who smashed a wine glass in the face of a Miss England finalist has been spared jail but ordered to pay her £7,000 in compensation.

A judge had warned China Gold that her attack on beauty queen Olivia Cooke, 22, in a pub row ‘crossed the custody threshold by a mile’. 

But the 28-year-old sobbed during sentencing on Friday when she was told that although the victim had been ‘profoundly affected’, there was ‘a strong list of personal mitigation’ which allowed an 18-month jail term suspended for two years.

Gold was also ordered to pay Miss Cooke £7,000 compensation within a fortnight and carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

Gold (pictured above on Friday) denied unlawful wounding after claiming that she had acted in self-defence because Miss Cooke had allegedly hurled a glass at the back of her head

Gold (pictured above on Friday) denied unlawful wounding after claiming that she had acted in self-defence because Miss Cooke had allegedly hurled a glass at the back of her head

Gold (pictured above on Friday) denied unlawful wounding after claiming that she had acted in self-defence because Miss Cooke had allegedly hurled a glass at the back of her head

Olivia Cooke, a professional golfer, needed five stitches after Gold pushed the glass into her forehead for a second time, leaving a deep 5cm cut to her forehead, court heard on Friday

Olivia Cooke, a professional golfer, needed five stitches after Gold pushed the glass into her forehead for a second time, leaving a deep 5cm cut to her forehead, court heard on Friday

China Gold, 28, (pictured at a previous hearing was spared jail but was ordered to pay back £7,000 in compensation after smashing a wine glass in the face of Olivia Cooke, 22

Maidstone Crown Court heard that Gold pushed her wine glass into Miss Cooke’s face during a row at The Farmhouse pub in West Malling, Kent, on October 19, 2018. 

The violence flared up after Gold made ‘crude comments’ about Miss Cooke’s sex life, calling her a ‘s**g’ and a slut’, the court heard.

Miss Cooke said she tried to ‘laugh it off’ but told Gold, who she had only met once before, that she did not ‘appreciate’ what she had said.

Gold accused Miss Cooke of trying to start a fight when they were both outside the pub.

Gold then grabbed the beauty queen around the throat before striking her with the glass, the court heard.

Miss Cooke, who is also a professional golfer, needed five stitches after Gold pushed the glass into her forehead for a second time, leaving a deep 5cm cut to her forehead.

The Miss England finalist had glass embedded in a smaller wound above her left eye and also suffered a swollen left cheek and a heavily-bruised left eye.

Gold had denied unlawful wounding after claiming that she had acted in self-defence because Miss Cooke had allegedly hurled a glass at the back of her head. 

She told the court that she ‘instinctively reacted’ by spinning around and throwing her own glass back at the 22-year-old. 

China Gold, 28, (pictured at a previous hearing) was spared jail but was ordered to pay back £7,000 in compensation after smashing a wine glass in the face of Olivia Cooke, 22

China Gold, 28, (pictured at a previous hearing) was spared jail but was ordered to pay back £7,000 in compensation after smashing a wine glass in the face of Olivia Cooke, 22

China Gold, 28, (pictured at a previous hearing) was spared jail but was ordered to pay back £7,000 in compensation after smashing a wine glass in the face of Olivia Cooke, 22

‘It wasn’t a push, it was a grab. She had her wine glass in her other hand. I got her off my neck and pushed her off,’ a tearful Miss Cooke told the jury.

‘She done it for a second time and the glass was still in her hand. I have obviously got my back up and got in a verbal argument, trying to stick up for myself.

‘Out of nowhere she chucked her drink on me and I don’t know what happened but instantly she glassed me twice towards the head.

‘It was one to break the glass and the second to cause injury, and obviously it has.’

Miss Cooke, from Barming, Kent, said she was not immediately aware she had been physically hurt and ran after Gold, only to be told she was bleeding heavily.

Gold, who runs a vehicle recovery firm and a car body repair shop, was found unanimously guilty following less than an hour’s deliberation by the jury. 

Despite needing five stitches, the beauty contestant competed in last year’s Miss England final, but missed out on the top spot and a place at Miss World. 

Miss Cooke, who teaches golf to children, still awaits plastic surgery to the scarring on her face, as well as to repair nerve damage. She is also said to suffer from severe stress, anxiety, and depression. 

She also feared discipline from the Professional Golfers’ Association and the Miss World Organisation after they received anonymous calls that she had been in a fight. 

The beauty contestant still competed in last year's Miss England final, but sadly missed out on the top spot and a place at Miss World

The beauty contestant still competed in last year's Miss England final, but sadly missed out on the top spot and a place at Miss World

The beauty contestant still competed in last year’s Miss England final, but sadly missed out on the top spot and a place at Miss World

Prosecutor Emin Kandola said the impact of the glass attack on her personal and professional life had been ‘substantial’.

But Judge Philip Statman said when reaching a ‘fair and just’ sentence that he had considered mitigating factors.

These included Gold’s positive previous good character, her diagnosed PTSD, the prospect of rehabilitation, genuine remorse, and the current coronavirus pandemic restrictions in prisons.  

Miss Cooke was also charged with common assault on Gold, in relation to the allegation she had thrown her own glass.

But she maintained during her evidence that she did not have one in her hand during the row. 

In her victim impact statement, Miss Cooke said her injury had led to blurred vision and she now needed to wear glasses or contact lenses, even when playing golf.

She added she had also faced questions about her scars from youngsters she taught, and felt like ‘an outcast’ while competing in Miss England.

‘I feel very angry and upset and I know I will have scars on my face,’ she wrote.

‘I am very confused as to why China would do this and disfigure me.

‘I have been constantly worrying for 18 months whether China would be found guilty or if it would be turned around on me and I would be found guilty of common assault. 

‘Having to look at the scar on a daily basis in the mirror has caused a huge amount of upset and I am sure I will never get over it without plastic surgery.’ 

Gold, who suffered cuts to her hand from the broken glass, told the court that she had no intention of hurting Miss Cooke and had apologised on seeing blood all over her face.

‘I felt bad. It was instinctual, I didn’t go out of my way to do it…..I am just not a horrible person,’ she told the jury of seven men and five women. 

Robin Griffiths, defending, said the row between the two women led to ‘a feverish atmosphere in which it was all too easy to be carried away in the moment’. 

The court heard that Olivia’s mother Julie, having heard her daughter was injured, turned up at the pub and punched Gold in the face, leaving her with a black eye.

Mrs Cook later pleaded guilty to assaulting Gold and causing her actual bodily harm and was sentenced by magistrates in July this year to an 18-month conditional discharge.

Judge Statman said that Mrs Cooke’s reaction had been ‘totally understandable’.

Powered by: Daily Mail

Continue Reading

Latest Stories

Woman bites man’s testicle off ‘as he tried to rape her’ in Brazil

Published

on

By

woman bites mans testicle off as he tried to rape her in brazil

A woman is being investigated by police in Brazil after she bit a man’s testicle off. 

The woman, named locally as Bruna, has admitted to the attack on September 5 – but says she only acted in self-defence when the man tried to rape her. 

She claims the man, named locally as Pedro, her neighbour, came into the bedroom of her home in Miguel Alves, northern Brazil, where she was with another man and assaulted her.

The woman, named locally as Bruna

The woman, named locally as Bruna

The man, named locally as Pedro

The man, named locally as Pedro

A woman, named locally as Bruna (left), has admitted biting the testicle off a man, named locally as Pedro (right) but claims self-defence, saying he was trying to rape her

In a video which has since gone viral, she claims that the man – who she alleges is her pimp – pushed her on to her bed with enough force to break it, before trying to rape her.

She confesses to biting him twice in self-defence, though says she was unaware at the time that she had bitten his testicle off.

Local reports suggest that the man may also be her ex-boyfriend, and attacked her out of jealousy. She denied dating him.

Pedro was rushed to hospital in serious condition after the September 5 attack, where medics revealed he lost a testicle

Pedro was rushed to hospital in serious condition after the September 5 attack, where medics revealed he lost a testicle

Pedro was rushed to hospital in serious condition after the September 5 attack, where medics revealed he lost a testicle

‘He climbed naked on the bed, he didn’t even let the guy undress, saying it was him now,’ she says in the video, according to a transcript from Corriero Braziliense

‘Then, he took [his penis] and started attacking me. The guy was pulling him to get him off me, while he was pulling my hair.

‘As he was already naked, on the bed, I took [his penis] and went – when my hair was pulled like that – I went downstairs… and bit it.

‘Because women don’t have the strength of men, understand? I went to his weak point. I bit.’

After the attack, the man was rushed to hospital in a serious condition, where doctors were unable to reattach the testicle.

The man received stitches, and was discharged the same day.

He claims that the attack was unprovoked, telling the G1 news channel that he ‘did not deserve what happened to him’.

The attack took place in a rural town in Piaui state, in northern Brazil. Police have opened an investigation, and are due to rule on whether charges will be brought

The attack took place in a rural town in Piaui state, in northern Brazil. Police have opened an investigation, and are due to rule on whether charges will be brought

The attack took place in a rural town in Piaui state, in northern Brazil. Police have opened an investigation, and are due to rule on whether charges will be brought

Bruna told another news site, Meionorte, that she was raped twice as a child, and refused to become a victim a third time.  

Police opened an investigation into the case after the man’s sister contacted them several days after the attack took place.

Detectives have carried out a medical examination on the man, and have since interviewed him and the woman.

A decision is still pending on whether one or both of them will be charged. 

Powered by: Daily Mail

Continue Reading

Latest Stories

Coronavirus: Matt Hancock insists ‘tests ARE available’ despite people queuing for hours

Published

on

By

coronavirus matt hancock insists tests are available despite people queuing for hours

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has insisted that coronavirus ‘tests are available’ despite people waiting in queues that last for hours, only to be turned away by staff when arriving at the swab centres. 

No10 officials have said they are not aware of anything to suggest that tests are not available ‘in some parts of the country’ as there are reports of a nationwide testing fiasco. 

When asked about testing availability, a No10 spokesman told reporters: ‘We are ramping up capacity or we are working to ramp up capacity in terms of tests. We are obviously targeting those tests in terms of areas where we are seeing higher rates of infections.

He was asked: ‘Are you saying tests are available in every part of the country, despite the fact that many of our readers and viewers are saying that they are not?

He replied: ‘You have seen the Health Secretary’s words. I am not aware of anything to suggest that tests aren’t available in some parts of the country.’ 

But desperate Britons have told of their battle to get a coronavirus swab this week, with two parents missing an appointment for their unwell daughter because they were stuck in traffic for three hours.

Parents Thandio and Marcio missed their slot at the newly-opened testing centre in Catford, Lewisham, after being stuck in gridlocked traffic leading up to the facility.

Their 11-year-old daughter had been rushed to hospital in an ambulance that morning, but when she was discharged, A&E medics told her parents to book her in for a swab at a testing centre, the Daily Telegraph reported.

They told the newspaper at the scene: ‘There’s no one here. We had an appointment but we missed it because were stuck in traffic. She’ll need to go into isolation and our other children can’t go to school.’ 

The nationwide Covid testing fiasco continues to rage on: 

  • Nine in ten hotspots recorded no new cases on September 15 and September 16 as laboratories dealt with the backlog;
  • Concerns about the Government’s ‘Lighthouse Labs’ ability to produce results due to staff and equipment shortages; 
  • Test and trace workers are taking two weeks to contact friends, relatives and contacts of those who test positive; 
  • Ministers have defended the shambolic testing system as thousands of people struggle to get checked for the disease, after Dido Harding claimed no-one expected the scale of demand as schools returned; 
  • Baroness Harding claimed ‘no one saw’ sudden spike in test demand coming despite return of schools; 
  • Lancashire is set for tighter lockdown rules, with a curfew set to go in place, but exemptions for Blackpool;
  • Matt Hancock told the Today programme hospital admissions in the UK are doubling every eight days
LEWISHAM: Hundreds were not able to get a coronavirus test at a drive-in testing centre in Catford, southeast London, yesterday due to a technical error which led to people not being sent QR codes to confirm their appointments

LEWISHAM: Hundreds were not able to get a coronavirus test at a drive-in testing centre in Catford, southeast London, yesterday due to a technical error which led to people not being sent QR codes to confirm their appointments

LEWISHAM: Hundreds were not able to get a coronavirus test at a drive-in testing centre in Catford, southeast London, yesterday due to a technical error which led to people not being sent QR codes to confirm their appointments

Staff of the NHS Test and Trace programme talks to people who arrived for an appointment at the Catford drive-in centre but were still unable to get a test

Staff of the NHS Test and Trace programme talks to people who arrived for an appointment at the Catford drive-in centre but were still unable to get a test

Staff of the NHS Test and Trace programme talks to people who arrived for an appointment at the Catford drive-in centre but were still unable to get a test

A technical error led to people who had booked appointments being refused a swab as they were not sent a confirmation email containing a barcode which needed to be scanned to verify their bookings

A technical error led to people who had booked appointments being refused a swab as they were not sent a confirmation email containing a barcode which needed to be scanned to verify their bookings

 A technical error led to people who had booked appointments being refused a swab as they were not sent a confirmation email containing a barcode which needed to be scanned to verify their bookings

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also admitted that there is not enough capacity in the testing system after demand 'massively accelerated' in recent weeks

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also admitted that there is not enough capacity in the testing system after demand 'massively accelerated' in recent weeks

 Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also admitted that there is not enough capacity in the testing system after demand ‘massively accelerated’ in recent weeks

MANCHESTER: A testing facility at Manchester airport was pictured practically deserted on Friday, with very few cars arriving despite many empty drive-in testing stations seeming to be empty

MANCHESTER: A testing facility at Manchester airport was pictured practically deserted on Friday, with very few cars arriving despite many empty drive-in testing stations seeming to be empty

MANCHESTER: A testing facility at Manchester airport was pictured practically deserted on Friday, with very few cars arriving despite many empty drive-in testing stations seeming to be empty

Cars were stuck in hours of gridlocked traffic when queuing for the testing facility on Thursday, with the hold-ups causing tailbacks and delays on the South Circular. 

The testing centre was plunged into chaos yesterday as hundreds of people were turned away after not being sent important QR codes, while other testing centres across the country have been practically deserted this week. 

A technical error led to people who had booked appointments being refused a swab as they were not sent a confirmation email containing a barcode which needed to be scanned to verify their bookings. 

People were left furious when they were told to rebook their appointments after queueing in hours of heavy traffic to attend the drive-in centre.

One grandmother told the Telegraph that she was turned away three times after booking an appointment at 3pm, while another frustrated father with two daughters in the back seats was reportedly given the ‘timeout’ hand gesture by staff after repeatedly honking his horn. 

Charlotte, a 32-year-old primary school teacher from Bromley, told News Shopper she witnessed ‘every single car being refused’ for the same reason during the hour she spent on the Catford site trying to rebook her test.

She said: ‘Some people where behaving extremely unacceptably towards the staff, shouting at and threatening them.

‘The whole experience was very unsafe. 

‘Many people – who come for a test and therefore were clearly suspected carriers – were taking their masks off to hurl abuse at the staff, or while they were talking to 119 on the phone.’

Charlotte and her ten-year-old son had both developed coronavirus symptoms but she claimed she was unable to rebook a test because she was told none were available.

The Catford testing site closed down its operation amid the chaos on Thursday but members of the public continued to arrive by car and on foot. 

The South Circular was gridlocked as people were turned away from the testing facility yesterday, with the car park overflowing with patients desperate to be tested.     

Tom Copley, Deputy Mayor of London for Housing, tweeted: ‘Massive gridlock in Catford.

‘Turns out a drive through Covid testing centre has been opened here. All roads inc south circular totally gridlocked.

‘And after all that nobody is getting tested because none of them have received a QR code. Shambles doesn’t even begin to describe it.’ 

The testing site closed down its operation but members of the public continued to arrive by car and on foot amid the chaos

The testing site closed down its operation but members of the public continued to arrive by car and on foot amid the chaos

The testing site closed down its operation but members of the public continued to arrive by car and on foot amid the chaos

Baroness Dido Harding, who leads the test and trace system, admitted yesterday that the demand for Covid swabs is up to four times capacity

Baroness Dido Harding, who leads the test and trace system, admitted yesterday that the demand for Covid swabs is up to four times capacity

Baroness Dido Harding, who leads the test and trace system, admitted yesterday that the demand for Covid swabs is up to four times capacity

Cars were gridlocked as masses of people hoping for a Covid test waited to enter the centre (above), with the queues causing tailbacks and delays on the South Circular

Cars were gridlocked as masses of people hoping for a Covid test waited to enter the centre (above), with the queues causing tailbacks and delays on the South Circular

Cars were gridlocked as masses of people hoping for a Covid test waited to enter the centre (above), with the queues causing tailbacks and delays on the South Circular

A police officer reportedly arrived on the scene in a bid to help guide the traffic, but was unable to tell them much apart from reiterating that they could not move.

G4S, which runs the Catford testing site, said that they are not responsible for the booking system or QR codes, which are issued by the Government’s online booking system. 

But the Department of Health and Social Care said that sites can use other information ‘to confirm an appointment if a QR code cannot be provided’. 

A spokesperson said: ‘NHS Test and Trace is providing tests at an unprecedented scale – 225,000 a day on average over the last week. There has been a spike in demand in recent weeks and the message is clear – only people with symptoms should be requesting a test.

‘People who have booked a valid appointment at a testing site will receive a test – sites can use other key information to confirm an appointment if a QR code cannot be provided.

‘We are doing everything possible to ensure those who need a test can get a test by targeting capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, and prioritising at-risk groups.

The chaos comes as amid a nationwide testing fiasco, with other Covid sites being pictured completely deserted following the Government admitting that there is not enough capacity in the testing system. 

A testing centre in Kidlington, Oxfordshire, has reportedly had similar technical issues to the Catford site over the last few days, leaving the centre completely deserted.  

Nearby roads were seen completely gridlocked amid the chaos, causing delays on the South Circular. Above, queuing cars at the drive through centre in Lewisham

Nearby roads were seen completely gridlocked amid the chaos, causing delays on the South Circular. Above, queuing cars at the drive through centre in Lewisham

Nearby roads were seen completely gridlocked amid the chaos, causing delays on the South Circular. Above, queuing cars at the drive through centre in Lewisham

LEEDS: A testing centre in Leeds was pictured completely deserted on Wednesday as other centres have been overrun with patients

LEEDS: A testing centre in Leeds was pictured completely deserted on Wednesday as other centres have been overrun with patients

LEEDS: A testing centre in Leeds was pictured completely deserted on Wednesday as other centres have been overrun with patients

Staff at the Covid testing site at Oxford Parkway reportedly said that there has been an error in the system, meaning the OX postcode is unable to generate the required QR codes.

The site was pictured completely deserted this morning following the reported issues, with patients being supposedly being given appointments as far away as Edinburgh instead. 

People arrived for appointments at a Covid testing site in Sunderland to find nobody there

The Doxford Park testing centre in Sunderland had to close after the site had to close because the computer system had ‘crashed’. 

The Doxford Park testing centre in Sunderland had to close after the site had to close because the computer system had ‘crashed’. 

But not only were people turned away in the QR code shambles, but people who turned up for appointments later that day found that there were no officials there.

Colin Thompson, 59, his daughter Maria, 42, and his granddaughter Sophia Littlemore, 15, were just one family left in the dark.

Colin Thompson (right), 59, and his 15-year-old granddaughter Sophia Littlemore (left) arrived at Doxford Park testing facility in Sunderland - but no officials were there to meet them

Colin Thompson (right), 59, and his 15-year-old granddaughter Sophia Littlemore (left) arrived at Doxford Park testing facility in Sunderland - but no officials were there to meet them

Colin Thompson (right), 59, and his 15-year-old granddaughter Sophia Littlemore (left) arrived at Doxford Park testing facility in Sunderland – but no officials were there to meet them

He said: ‘My daughter and granddaughter had an appointment at 3.35pm, we came here, the car park’s over three-quarters full, and nobody’s turned up.

‘My daughter’s been trying to get an appointment for four days to get a test for her and her daughter, so she can send her to school. This is absolutely a joke, it’s diabolical.

‘When we got there, we saw loads of cars leaving and there were people there who had been there much longer than me since about 2-3pm.

‘My granddaughter suffers from asthma but because she had a cough, she was sent home from school to get tested and then when we went, nobody was there! It’s very frustrating.

‘I’m disappointed, I’m upset and I feel extremely let down by our government.’

 

<!—->Advertisement

And Doxford Park testing centre in Sunderland had similar difficulties as around 50 cars piled up outside the facility.

People were turned away from the facility and some were told that the site was now ‘closed’ because the computer system had ‘crashed’. 

Residents were turned away from the site for not having a QR code – despite many having seen a confirmation page on their screens after booking.

Later that day, people with bookings turned up to the site to discover there was no one there to swab them with some calling it ‘diabolical’.

Sunderland City Council has since urged people not to show up without an appointment.

The testing chaos comes as other Covid testing centres across the country have been empty while others are overrun with people desperate for a swab.

A testing centre in Leeds was pictured completely deserted on Wednesday as the Government announced that Covid swabs will have to be rationed due to test shortages.

An airport testing facility in Manchester was seen practically empty on Friday with few cars arriving at the drive-in centre, despite their being numerous empty stations available.

A Twickenham MP has also said that her south-west London constituents had been told to travel to Aberdeen to book a test.

Munira Wilson, Lib Dem health spokesman, said: ‘We were promised a world-beating test and trace system but what we have at the moment is an utter shambles.’

Ministers first faced a crisis over testing early on in the first wave of Covid when a campaign by the Mail led to Mr Hancock vowing to deliver 100,000 tests a day.

That pledge was later raised to 200,000, then 500,000 by the end of October and now four million by next February under the ambitious ‘Operation Moonshot’.

However, the system has been thrown back into chaos in recent days because demand for tests has massively increased, overwhelming laboratories. 

Matt Hancock admitted earlier this week that testing would have to be rationed during the nationwide testing fiasco as fears of a second coronavirus wave rise. 

The Health Secretary announced that Covid tests could be rationed with a ‘priority list’ to make sure that environments such as care homes and hospitals would have enough tests.

Mr Hancock was also forced to admit in Commons that the current critical shortages could drag on for weeks, after the public had previously been told to seek tests ‘if in doubt’.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also admitted that there is not enough capacity in the testing system after demand ‘massively accelerated’ in recent weeks. 

Testing chaos comes as the Government has admitted that there are shortages in testing, with a suggestion of rationing from the Health Secretary. Above, signs direct people to an east London testing centre

Testing chaos comes as the Government has admitted that there are shortages in testing, with a suggestion of rationing from the Health Secretary. Above, signs direct people to an east London testing centre

Testing chaos comes as the Government has admitted that there are shortages in testing, with a suggestion of rationing from the Health Secretary. Above, signs direct people to an east London testing centre

OXFORDSHIRE: A Covid testing centre at Oxford parkway in Kidlington has reportedly been empty over the last few days due to a technical error in the system

OXFORDSHIRE: A Covid testing centre at Oxford parkway in Kidlington has reportedly been empty over the last few days due to a technical error in the system

OXFORDSHIRE: A Covid testing centre at Oxford parkway in Kidlington has reportedly been empty over the last few days due to a technical error in the system

Tom Copley, Deputy Mayor of London for Housing, tweeted about the chaos at Catford, saying that the South Circular was 'gridlocked' due to the massive queues

Tom Copley, Deputy Mayor of London for Housing, tweeted about the chaos at Catford, saying that the South Circular was 'gridlocked' due to the massive queues

Tom Copley, Deputy Mayor of London for Housing, tweeted about the chaos at Catford, saying that the South Circular was ‘gridlocked’ due to the massive queues 

He has urged people to follow the new ‘rule of six’ as he warned that actions to stop a second surge of coronavirus must be ‘tough now’ in order to ‘protect’ Christmas.

A leading scientist has also warned today that Covid testing ‘is dying on its a**e’, as he said he was ‘appalled by what I saw’ at the Government’s testing labs. 

Concerns have been raised about the Government’s seven ‘Lighthouse Labs’ and their ability to process results, due to shortages of staff and equipment. 

Genomics scientist and inventor Phil Robinson told The Times that the Lighthouse Labs were poorly managed, running out of staff and failed to set up automatic processes before a second wave of infections. 

He told the paper: ‘Every part of the process was poor. The other ludicrous issue they have is they have 20 different types of tube coming into the lab. When you are running a high throughput lab it’s only sensible to have one. Why they haven’t standardised that I have no idea.’ 

Baroness Dido Harding, who leads the test and trace system, also admitted yesterday that demand for swabs is up to four times capacity. 

But she declared that the sudden rise, which follows children returning to school and parents going back to the office, had not been predicted – despite repeated warnings. 

TWICKENHAM: Cars were seen in a small queue outside the testing centre following MP Munira Wilson, Lib Dem health spokesman, saying that her constituents had been told to travel to Aberdeen to book a test

TWICKENHAM: Cars were seen in a small queue outside the testing centre following MP Munira Wilson, Lib Dem health spokesman, saying that her constituents had been told to travel to Aberdeen to book a test

TWICKENHAM: Cars were seen in a small queue outside the testing centre following MP Munira Wilson, Lib Dem health spokesman, saying that her constituents had been told to travel to Aberdeen to book a test

G4S, which runs the Catford testing site, said that they are not responsible for the booking system or QR codes, which are issued by the Government's online booking system. Pictured: signs for Covid testing in east London on Friday

G4S, which runs the Catford testing site, said that they are not responsible for the booking system or QR codes, which are issued by the Government's online booking system. Pictured: signs for Covid testing in east London on Friday

G4S, which runs the Catford testing site, said that they are not responsible for the booking system or QR codes, which are issued by the Government’s online booking system. Pictured: signs for Covid testing in east London on Friday

MANCHESTER: One car was seen arriving at Manchester airport testing facility on Friday, while other people are forced to face massive queues at other Covid centres across the country

MANCHESTER: One car was seen arriving at Manchester airport testing facility on Friday, while other people are forced to face massive queues at other Covid centres across the country

MANCHESTER: One car was seen arriving at Manchester airport testing facility on Friday, while other people are forced to face massive queues at other Covid centres across the country

Concerns have been echoed by Nicola Sturgeon, who yesterday said she still has concerns about the amount of time being taken to process coronavirus tests at UK Government laboratories. 

And NHS Providers, which represents NHS trust leaders, argued that the country was ‘a long way off where we need to be with testing’.

On Thursday, the Government announced that it was launching two new ‘Lighthouse’ testing labs in Newcastle and Bracknell.

Accompanying new sites in Newport and Charnwood, the four labs promise to increase capacity to deliver 500,000 tests per day by the end of October, DHSC said. 

Plans have also been released for a Lighthouse laboratory dealing with testing and a Covid-19 research hub, which could create 1,100 jobs in the North East of England. 

The new facility would serve the region, as well as northern Cumbria and Yorkshire, and would be the latest expansion of the Government’s national Test and Trace programme.

The Lighthouse lab will be based in Gateshead with a specialist innovation lab at the Helix site in Newcastle, focused on developing new approaches to coronavirus science.

The project will be a partnership between Newcastle City Council and the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as well as public health teams, local universities and industry.

Charlotte, a 32-year-old primary school teacher from Bromley, said she witnessed 'every single car being refused' for the same reason during the hour she spent on the Catford site trying to rebook her test

Charlotte, a 32-year-old primary school teacher from Bromley, said she witnessed 'every single car being refused' for the same reason during the hour she spent on the Catford site trying to rebook her test

Charlotte, a 32-year-old primary school teacher from Bromley, said she witnessed ‘every single car being refused’ for the same reason during the hour she spent on the Catford site trying to rebook her test

NEWHAM: The London Covid testing centre did not have any queues for swabbing on Friday, amid nationwide testing chaos as some centres remain overrun by desperate Britons

NEWHAM: The London Covid testing centre did not have any queues for swabbing on Friday, amid nationwide testing chaos as some centres remain overrun by desperate Britons

NEWHAM: The London Covid testing centre did not have any queues for swabbing on Friday, amid nationwide testing chaos as some centres remain overrun by desperate Britons

HEATHROW: The chaos comes as amid a nationwide testing fiasco, as some sites are deserted following the Government admitting that there is not enough capacity in the testing system

HEATHROW: The chaos comes as amid a nationwide testing fiasco, as some sites are deserted following the Government admitting that there is not enough capacity in the testing system

HEATHROW: The chaos comes as amid a nationwide testing fiasco, as some sites are deserted following the Government admitting that there is not enough capacity in the testing system

Deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said trust leaders were ‘increasingly concerned’ that testing shortages could put pressure on NHS services and winter preparations due to growing staff absences.

‘Trust leaders are concerned that they do not have the detail on why there are shortages, how widespread they are or how long they will last,’ she added.

The nationwide testing fiasco continues as 10million people are told to follow new lockdown rules as Lancashire is placed under curfew alongside the North East. 

The Government’s chief science and medical officers have warned that another serious outbreak of coronavirus could lead to a significant number of deaths by the end of next month.

Although there has been no final decision on new measures, the BBC said it could involve the closure of key hospitality businesses for a fortnight.

Schools and most workplaces would stay open, but pubs and restaurants could have their opening hours restricted.

The idea of conducting the lockdown over the half-term holidays has also been mooted.  

It’s NOT just chaos at swab sites: Scientist lifts lid on hidden shambles at UK test processing labs

By Amie Gordon and Sam Blanchard Senior Health Reporter For MailOnline 

A leading scientist has today warned that Covid testing ‘is dying on its a**e’, as he said he was ‘appalled by what I saw’ at the Government’s testing labs. 

Concerns have been raised about the Government’s seven ‘Lighthouse Labs’ and their ability to process results, due to shortages of staff and equipment. 

Genomics scientist and inventor Phil Robinson told The Times that the Lighthouse Labs were poorly managed, running out of staff and failed to set up automatic processes before a second wave of infections. 

He told the paper: ‘Every part of the process was poor. The other ludicrous issue they have is they have 20 different types of tube coming into the lab. When you are running a high throughput lab it’s only sensible to have one. Why they haven’t standardised that I have no idea’. 

Amid chaos in the laboratories the Government’s test and trace system is also ‘barely functional’, with workers taking up to two weeks to contact friends, relatives and workmates of those who have tested positive for Covid-19.

Baroness Dido Harding, who leads the test and trace system, admitted yesterday that demand for swabs is up to four times capacity, but declared the sudden rise as children returned to school and parents went back to the office had not been predicted – despite repeated warnings.

Leeds and Lancashire are expected to face enhanced lockdown measures in the coming days, as delays see 90 per cent of tests being turned around outside the 24-hour target. 

Around 9.2million Britons are living under enhanced restrictions to curb outbreaks in their regions, after the North East was added to the ever-growing list yesterday. 

33308400 8746663 image a 2 1600418884617

33308400 8746663 image a 2 1600418884617

The proportion of people getting their Covid-19 test results within 24 hours has plummeted for all kinds of test, performance data showed today

The proportion of people getting their Covid-19 test results within 24 hours has plummeted for all kinds of test, performance data showed today

The proportion of people getting their Covid-19 test results within 24 hours has plummeted for all kinds of test, performance data showed today

A scientist has warned of chaos in the Government's coronavirus testing labs. Pictured is a volunteer processing samples at a laboratory in Alderley Park, Cheshire

A scientist has warned of chaos in the Government's coronavirus testing labs. Pictured is a volunteer processing samples at a laboratory in Alderley Park, Cheshire

A scientist has warned of chaos in the Government’s coronavirus testing labs. Pictured is a volunteer processing samples at a laboratory in Alderley Park, Cheshire

On Thursday, the Government announced that it was launching two new ‘Lighthouse’ testing labs in Newcastle and Bracknell.

Accompanying new sites in Newport, Wales, and Charnwood in the Midlands, the four labs promise to increase capacity to deliver 500,000 tests per day by the end of October, DHSC said.

The Newcastle and Bracknell facilities are not expected to be fully operational until March and February, respectively.

NHS Providers, which represents NHS trust leaders, argued that the country was ‘a long way off where we need to be with testing’.

TEST & TRACE ‘COULD BE OUTSOURCED TO AMAZON’ 

The UK’S test and trace system could be outsourced to a delivery giant such as Amazon, it was reported last night.

Ministers are said to be planning to hand over the running of the testing service to a logistics firm as the system struggles to cope with increased demand for tests.

A invitation to bid for a contract covering the management of the entire ‘end-to-end’ supply chain will be issued next month, The Daily Telegraph reported.

A Government source said ‘experts in delivery services’ were needed. ‘At the moment, the management of NHS Test and Trace has been in-house but, as we go into winter, we need experts in this area to take it forward,’ they said.

Amazon, DHL and other major logistics firms are all reportedly likely to be competing for the huge contract which will be the linchpin of the Health Secretary’s promise to deliver 500,000 tests a day by the end of next month.

An information notice issued by the Department of Health calls for potential bidders to register their interest in the contract to co-ordinate the testing service’s supply change.

It says: ‘In order to significantly scale up the number of daily tests as well as making the operations more efficient, we are looking for an end-to-end management of all associated supply chain and logistics processes along the chain.’

<!—->Advertisement

Plans have also been released for a Lighthouse laboratory dealing with testing and a Covid-19 research hub, which could create 1,100 jobs in the North East of England.

The new facility would serve the region, as well as northern Cumbria and Yorkshire, and would be the latest expansion of the Government’s national Test and Trace programme.

The Lighthouse Lab will be based in Gateshead with a specialist innovation lab at the Helix site in Newcastle, focused on developing new approaches to coronavirus science.

The project will be a partnership between Newcastle City Council and the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as well as public health teams, local universities and industry.

Deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said trust leaders were ‘increasingly concerned’ that testing shortages could put pressure on NHS services and winter preparations due to growing staff absences.

‘Trust leaders are concerned that they do not have the detail on why there are shortages, how widespread they are or how long they will last,’ she added.

Reacting to the latest test and trace figures, Justin Madders, Labour’s shadow health minister, said it was a ‘huge concern’ that the test and trace system performance ‘continues to go backwards’ and appeared’on the verge of collapse’.

He added: ‘Perhaps the biggest problem is that people cannot get tested, which means thousands of people are not going into the system in the first place. Ministers must get a grip and fix testing now.’ 

Dr Mike Skinner, who volunteered to work in a Lighthouse Laboratory dealing with Covid-19 tests, said half the work was involved in sorting the logistics of handling the samples.

The reader in virology at Imperial College London told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘In the lab, when the testing was upscaled back in March, you really had to get all kinds of sample kits from lots of different producers, there were lots of difficulties in that.

‘We had to put half of our staff into handling issues with barcoding, leaks – we actually had to remove the swabs from the tubes so they didn’t gum-up some of the robots down the line.’

He added: ‘It really is very much about logistics.’ 

Chief of the testing system, Baroness Dido Harding, has admitted that the system is not geared up to cope with the numbers of tests that people are now demanding.

Nobody was ‘expecting’ to see the ‘really sizeable increase in demand’ for checks, she said yesterday.

Baroness Harding’s comments, which come despite the return of schools and more people heading back to work, sparked outrage as she told MPs ‘none of the modelling’ had suggested there would be such a steep uptick in requests.

The head of the NHS Test and Trace programme blamed the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) for seemingly getting its predictions wrong as she said testing capacity had been built based on the panel’s recommendations. 

Meanwhile, she revealed that demand for Covid tests is currently up to four times greater than the system’s capacity. 

WHAT ARE THE LIGHTHOUSE LABS? 

What is a Lighthouse Lab?

The laboratories are set up to process the swab tests that are used to diagnose people with coronavirus.

They contain machines capable of a process called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which magnifies DNA samples from people’s saliva and mucous to look for signs of the virus.

Samples taken at swab testing centres are delivered to the labs where technicians analyse the samples and file the result into a database, which then sends the result back to the person who took the test and logs it in the Government’s data.

Where are the Lighthouse Labs?

  • Milton Keynes
  • Alderley Park, Cheshire
  • Glasgow
  • Cambridge
  • Antrim, Northern Ireland
  • Newport
  • Loughborough
  • Newcastle (planned)
  • Bracknell (planned)   

Who runs the Lighthouse Labs? 

The lab system is ultimately controlled by the Department of Health, which hand-picks existing laboratories around the country and pays them to process Covid-19 tests in a standardised way.

There is not a threshold a lab must meet to become a Lighthouse Lab, but all are capable of processing tens of thousands of tests per day and have capacity to expand. 

No new labs have been built, but institutions at universities and pharmaceutical companies are given new equipment, improved lab spaces and money to hire their own qualified staff to cope with the demand. Some of the labs use existing staff.

Labs being used so far include ones at pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline, the universities of Cambridge, Glasgow and Dundee, and the scientific organisations UK Biocentre, Medicines Discovery Catapult and US-based PerkinElmer.  

Alongside the Lighthouse Labs, the Government also uses facilities run by Public Health England, the NHS and other smaller universities and institutions known as ‘surge labs’.

<!—->Advertisement

However, while some centres are stretched to the limit trying to deliver, others remain empty, with one worker even pictured falling asleep on the job at a site in Heathrow.

There have been numerous reports of staff at deserted walk-in testing centres turning people away if they didn’t have an appointment or weren’t showing obvious coronavirus symptoms. 

It is not clear exactly why the Heathrow site was so empty, however it is a remote drive-in centre where tests are carried out by appointment, involving swabbing through the car window.

Officials have blamed the limited capacity of the Lighthouse Labs for slowing down other elements of the testing system.

There are currently seven of the facilities up and running, according to the UK Lighthouse Labs Network, in Milton Keynes, Cheshire, Glasgow, Cambridge, Antrim in Northern Ireland, Newport and Loughborough.

The lab system is ultimately controlled by the Department of Health, which hand-picks existing laboratories around the country and pays them to process Covid-19 tests in a standardised way.

There is not a threshold a lab must meet to become a Lighthouse Lab, but all are capable of processing tens of thousands of tests per day and have capacity to expand. 

No new labs have been built, but institutions at universities and pharmaceutical companies are given new equipment, improved lab spaces and money to hire their own qualified staff to cope with the demand. Some of the labs use existing staff.

Labs being used so far include ones at pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline, the universities of Cambridge, Glasgow and Dundee, and the scientific organisations UK Biocentre, Medicines Discovery Catapult and US-based PerkinElmer.  

Alongside the Lighthouse Labs, the Government also uses facilities run by Public Health England, the NHS and other smaller universities and institutions known as ‘surge labs’.

New labs are being set up in an ongoing expansion of the programme, with sites expected to open soon in Newcastle and Bracknell, Berkshire. 

Newly-opened labs do not run at full capacity straight away and those are not expected to be working in full swing until February (Bracknell) and March (Newcastle), when they will be able to process a combined 120,000 tests per day.  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted up to 250,000 Britons could be waiting for their Covid-19 test result because of a mammoth backlog in Government laboratories, which has meant tens of thousands of swabs are being held up in a process that is only supposed to take 24 hours.

In response to criticism from furious MPs this week, he said there is a hold-up of ‘less than a day’s capacity’ caused by ‘operational challenges’ in laboratories. The Department of Health claims it can process 245,000 swab tests per day.

The backlog has reportedly been caused by staff finishing temporary contracts and surging demand as cases continue to increase across the UK – and one scientist claimed the Government’s claim of how many tests it can process may not actually be true. 

Whitehall sources say the actual cause of the crisis is a ‘secret’, while one leading scientist dismissed claims of a staffing shortage and said labs appear to have enough technicians. 

Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Health Secretary for Labour, claimed the system was in difficulty because post-graduate science students who had been working in the labs over the summer were now leaving.

He said in Parliament today: ‘Extra demand on the system was inevitable. So why didn’t [Matt Hancock] use the summer to significantly expand NHS capacity and fix contact tracing?

‘And just as demand is increasing, the ability to process tests is diminishing. Post-grad students working in the Lighthouse Labs are returning to university, so why did we not plan for these inevitable staff shortages in the Lighthouse Labs?’

An expert in the field said many technicians had been drafted in on intense short-term contracts during the crisis but were now going back to their everyday jobs.

Doris-Ann Williams, chief executive of the British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA), told The Telegraph: ‘People worked really, really hard for the first three or four months. 

‘I think everyone just ran out of steam, needed to recharge their batteries. 

‘It could be that it’s just getting back up to strength again after everyone has had a bit of a break in August.’

But one leading scientist was not convinced that the problem was quite as simple as ‘lab capacity’.

Professor Alan McNally, a University of Birmingham expert who helped set up the Government’s Milton Keynes Lighthouse Lab, said a ‘perfect storm’ of events have crashed the testing system.

He told BBC Breakfast there were ‘clearly underlying issues which nobody wants to tell us about’.

He said: ‘The labs are still fully staffed, they are still churning through huge amounts of samples per day – the same number as they were a couple of months ago – so there are problems elsewhere in the chain…

‘I think this is multi-factorial. I think you almost have a perfect storm of events that have come together to almost essentially crash the testing system.

‘I think there is a surge in demand [and] I think our stated capacity is very different from actually how many tests can be run in a given day.’  

Members of the public are pictured queueing outside a coronavirus testing centre in Edmonton, North London, as people across the country say they are struggling to get hold of tests

Members of the public are pictured queueing outside a coronavirus testing centre in Edmonton, North London, as people across the country say they are struggling to get hold of tests

Members of the public are pictured queueing outside a coronavirus testing centre in Edmonton, North London, as people across the country say they are struggling to get hold of tests

Concerns have been echoed by Nicola Sturgeon, who yesterday said she still has concerns about the amount of time being taken to process coronavirus tests at UK Government laboratories.

The First Minister again spoke of pressures on the testing system in England which have caused a delay in people getting results.

Her comments came as a UK Government minister insisted coronavirus testing capacity in Scotland is ‘increasing enormously’.

No staff at test centre on the same day the new measures were announced 

Dozens of drivers turned up at a test site to find there were no staff to swab them, on the day the health secretary announced tougher coronavirus measures for people in the north-east.

People who had booked a test on Thursday at Doxford Park, an out-of-town business park in Sunderland, were told by the media they would not be tested, as there were no officials there to inform them.

Some had been turned away on the approach to the centre by security guards, who told them the computers had crashed and to try again later.

HGV mechanic Brad Cockburn, 28, made a 100-mile round trip from Bedale, North Yorkshire, only to find there were no staff, not even a tent or other infrastructure, at the site on the out-of-town business park.

He said: ‘There’s no organisation, it’s piss-poor performance as usual.’

Rob Reid, a 58-year-old cash and carry manager from Sunderland, booked for 3.45pm, only to find there were no staff.

He said: ‘It annoys me. My concern is about my health and it comes across that the Government is not that concerned, when they are taking bookings on the NHS website and there’s nobody here to do it.’

<!—->Advertisement

Iain Stewart also said that if decisions need to be made over who should be the priority for testing in Scotland, that would be for the Scottish Government.

Coronavirus tests in England are to be rationed as the Government at Westminster struggles to get to grips with soaring demand.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there will be testing ‘prioritisation’ for people with acute clinical need and those in social care settings, as he acknowledged ‘operational challenges’ in the system.

First Minister Ms Sturgeon stressed on Tuesday there was ‘not by and large’ an issue with getting tests north of the border.

But she said ‘constraints’ at the UK Government’s Lighthouse laboratories meant results were being delayed – an issue she has raised in talks with Mr Hancock and Dido Harding, the head of the UK testing system.

Speaking at her briefing on Wednesday, the First Minister said: ‘Although we continue to have some concerns about the time being taken to process tests in the Lighthouse laboratories, there are no signs at this stage of people in Scotland facing widespread difficulties in booking a test.’

She said the backlog in testing is now reducing and her Government will ‘monitor these issues very closely’.

She added she is considering if the regular testing of care home staff – which is currently dealt with by the Lighthouse laboratory system – could be taken over by the NHS in some areas.

Ms Sturgeon said: ‘The reason we have been looking at that is to see if we can free up capacity within the UK system, given the pressure it has been experiencing.’

Mr Stewart stressed the UK Government, which he said is responsible for the majority of testing in Scotland, is acting on the problems.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, he said the Government is ‘increasing the overall capacity’ in the testing system.

He insisted it is right that the UK Government had acted to prioritise access for testing in England to key workers and those in care homes.

Asked what should happen in Scotland, Mr Stewart said: ‘That is for the Scottish Government to determine.

‘What we are doing as a UK Government is increasing enormously the availability of testing in Scotland.

33306222 8746663 image a 4 1600418884623

33306222 8746663 image a 4 1600418884623

33301654 8746663 image a 5 1600418884627

33301654 8746663 image a 5 1600418884627

33305190 8746663 image a 6 1600418884630

33305190 8746663 image a 6 1600418884630

‘I am glad that the Scottish Government are increasing their side of testing but the majority of testing in Scotland is run by UK bodies, and we are expanding that. There will be another walk- through centre opening in Glasgow in the next few days, so that availability will be there.

‘At this point we just ought to say a huge thank-you to the people at the Lighthouse lab in Glasgow who are working 24/7. When they first started off they were doing about 40 tests a day, they’re now doing tens of thousands.’

The new walk-in testing centre at the Arc Sport Centre in Glasgow is due to open on Friday afternoon, the Scotland Office said.

With a walk-in centre already open in St Andrews, Ms Sturgeon said plans are ‘on track’ for a further four such facilities to open in the next two weeks as part of a move to ‘establish 20 more walk-in centres across Scotland over the autumn and winter’.

The 90-minute coronavirus test that’s 94% accurate: On-the-spot Covid-19 screening that delivers result in less than two hours could transform diagnosis this winter, experts say

An on-the-spot Covid test which delivers a result in 90 minutes could transform diagnosis in NHS hospitals this winter, experts say.

A study published last night revealed the CovidNudge test – a machine the size of a shoebox – does not deliver any ‘false positive’ results, meaning all those who test positive are carrying the virus.

It has a ‘specificity’ of 94 per cent – meaning 6 per cent of those given the all-clear will actually have the virus – but this is far better than the 70 per cent specificity rate seen with the standard Covid test.

The NHS has already ordered 5,000 machines and 5.8 million testing cartridges, at the cost of about £30 per test. 

The CovidNudge is a machine the size of a shoebox and delivers results in 90 minutes

The CovidNudge is a machine the size of a shoebox and delivers results in 90 minutes

The CovidNudge is a machine the size of a shoebox and delivers results in 90 minutes

The NHS has already ordered 5,000 machines and 5.8 million testing cartridges

The NHS has already ordered 5,000 machines and 5.8 million testing cartridges

The NHS has already ordered 5,000 machines and 5.8 million testing cartridges

Eventually the machines could be used in schools, theatres and even private homes. They were used by the London Symphony Orchestra last month to give musicians the all-clear to perform at the Proms.

Some 10,000 people have been tested on the NHS so far, with a major roll-out due in the coming weeks.

The machine, designed by Imperial College London spinout company DnaNudge, is particularly useful for hospitals because it can be used at a patient’s bedside.

Because the turnaround time is so quick, doctors can make rapid treatment decisions without waiting hours or days for laboratory results.

The process involves collecting nasal and throat swabs and placing them on to a cartridge which goes into the machine – called a ‘NudgeBox’ – for analysis.

The device then looks for traces of genetic material belonging to the coronavirus.

Each machine has the ability to process up to 15 tests on the spot each day. Professor Graham Cooke, of Imperial, whose evaluation of the machine was published in the Lancet Microbe journal, said: ‘This test is particularly well suited for clinical settings when you are trying to make a rapid decision for a patient. 

‘For example, we had a patient from last week who had a new diagnosis of Covid.

‘We were able to get the diagnosis confirmed within two hours of arriving and start remdesivir and dexamethasone [drugs used to treat severe Covid-19] on that basis.’

The test is being used across eight London hospitals and is expected to be rolled out at a national level.

Professor Cooke said there was no practical reason why it could not be used in someone’s home, but for now manufacturing was being targeted at healthcare use.

And while the machine excels at speed, accuracy and ease of use, it is not the answer to the Government’s current testing problems, because each machine can process only one test at a time.

‘It is not the answer if you need millions of tests a day,’ Professor Cooke said.

The team is also modifying the device so the test can simultaneously assess other respiratory diseases.

Dr Bob Klaber, director of strategy at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: ‘Getting accurate results back to clinicians and their patients as quickly as possible makes a huge difference to how we safely manage clinical pathways and we are very much looking forward to rolling this out more widely.’

Professor Chris Toumazou, co-founder of DnaNudge, added: ‘The platform is well suited to testing in primary care and community settings with potential for use in non-healthcare settings such as care homes, schools, transport hubs, offices, and, to help bring the arts back, in theatres and venues.’

Dido Harding claims demand for testing is up to four times capacity 

Baroness Harding

Baroness Harding

Baroness Dido Harding (right) was grilled by MPs

Demand for Covid tests is up to four times the system’s capacity, Baroness Harding admitted today.

The Tory peer revealed the staggering mismatch between the number of people wanting tests and the ability to carry them out as she claimed 27 per cent have no symptoms.

Extraordinarily. she said no-one had ‘expected’ the ‘sizeable’ increase in demand – although it was widely predicted, blaming SAGE for getting their estimates wrong.

Lady Harding has been hauled before MPs to explain the shambles that has left thousands struggling to get checked.

She told the Science Committee that she did not have precise numbers for how many people wanted tests. But she said phone calls and website visits suggested it was ‘three to four times the number of tests we have available’.

Brazenly passing the buck for the chaos, Lady Harding said: ‘We built our capacity plans based on SAGE modelling for what we should be preparing for in the Autumn.’

Lady Harding confirmed the capacity now for diagnostic tests is just under 243,000 per day – a figure that the government has failed to publish for more than a week. Thousands of tests are being sent abroad to be processed, she said.

She said the government was ‘on track’ to increase capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October – although that would cover all types of tests, not just for whether people currently have coronavirus.

And she conceded that will not be enough. ‘I am certain we will need more as we go beyond the end of October,’ she said.  

<!—->Advertisement

Powered by: Daily Mail

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 DiazHub.