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‘Why CAN’T I get a test?’: Thousands are caught in Covid chaos while testing centres stand empty

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why cant i get a test thousands are caught in covid chaos while testing centres stand empty

** Have you had problems getting a test? Contact 02036152973 or email katie.weston@mailonline.co.uk **

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Thousands have been caught up in Covid-19 chaos while testing centres stand empty and ministers say one in four people who have booked slots turn out to be ineligible.

Parents in Bolton and Hull have complained of struggling to get tests for their children who have been sent home from school ‘with a runny nose’.

Meanwhile, others have reported driving for two hours from West Sussex only to be turned away without a test and even being told to make a 280-mile round trip from Durham to Edinburgh.

Despite the struggle to get an appointment, pictures show empty testing centres across the country at Heathrow airport, Leeds and Cambridge.

An empty coronavirus testing centre pictured in Leeds today. Covid tests will be rationed as the Government struggles to get to grips amid soaring demand across the country

An empty coronavirus testing centre pictured in Leeds today. Covid tests will be rationed as the Government struggles to get to grips amid soaring demand across the country

A quiet coronavirus testing centre in Cambridge today, despite the need for extra testing and complaints from parents on the struggle to get a test for children sent home from school

A quiet coronavirus testing centre in Cambridge today, despite the need for extra testing and complaints from parents on the struggle to get a test for children sent home from school

Members of the public use a relatively quiet coronavirus test centre that has recently opened in Bolton this morning. Around 25 per cent of those booking a test do not meet requirements

Members of the public use a relatively quiet coronavirus test centre that has recently opened in Bolton this morning. Around 25 per cent of those booking a test do not meet requirements

The NHS testing centre at London's Heathrow airport, pictured very quiet again. Meanwhile, others have reported driving for two hours from West Sussex only to be turned away

The NHS testing centre at London’s Heathrow airport, pictured very quiet again. Meanwhile, others have reported driving for two hours from West Sussex only to be turned away

It comes as internal test and trace research by the Department for Health estimates that roughly 25 per cent of all those booking a test do not meet the requirements to do so. 

Sammie Waudby, 32, from west Hull, said her 11-year-old son was sent home from school on Monday and has only just been able to get a test today after trying ‘every hour’, even during the night.

She told MailOnline: ‘I’m not very happy when it’s just a runny nose but he can’t go back to school until then and he’s already far behind. 

‘He’s in year 7 so to me he should be there getting used to the school’s surroundings and new people.

‘I’ve been trying since Monday morning, even every hour during the night. 

‘The test is around 40 minutes away, it’s the other side of Hull to where we are, but I got offered Doncaster on Tuesday so this is not as bad. 

‘I don’t drive so it’s a bit annoying.’

Hasina Miah, 33, has been trying to book tests for her eight-year-old daughter and six-year-old son since Sunday so they can go back to school.

Hasina Miah (pictured), 33, from Bolton, who has been trying to book tests for her two children since Sunday, said: 'I've been trying every 30 minutes. There is nothing available'

Hasina Miah (pictured), 33, from Bolton, who has been trying to book tests for her two children since Sunday, said: ‘I’ve been trying every 30 minutes. There is nothing available’

Dr Claire Sillitoe, above, had to cancel appointments with patients on Monday as she was unable to get a Covid test. The GP said she was 'stuck in a really difficult position'

Dr Claire Sillitoe, above, had to cancel appointments with patients on Monday as she was unable to get a Covid test. The GP said she was ‘stuck in a really difficult position’

WHO CAN GET A CORONAVIRUS TEST? 

Anyone can get a coronavirus test, whatever their age, but the Government insists only those with symptoms should apply for them.

Symptoms include: a fever, a new continuous cough, or a loss of smell or taste.    

Care home staff and residents should now be getting tests regularly, whether they show symptoms or not. 

Some hospital staff get tested routinely, but this is not explicitly recommended by national guidelines.

If you don’t have symptoms, 

The government says those without symptoms should not apply for a test – unless they live in an area under local lockdown.

Those prioritised for testing in England include all NHS social care staff, such as doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff, including community pharmacists and their staff, volunteers and unpaid carers.

Staff at essential public services staff, including those working for prisons, probation, courts, charities, and religious staff are also prioritised.

Those working in public safety and national security sectors, such as police and Ministry of Defence civilians, contractors and armed forces personnel are listed by the Government as priorities as well.

Employers can refer essential workers for testing if they are self-isolating because either they or member(s) of their household have coronavirus symptoms.

In England, all registered adult care homes can apply for coronavirus tests.

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The self-employed mother from Bolton told Sky News: ‘I’ve been trying every 30 minutes. There is nothing available.

‘I have entered Bolton, Manchester, Wigan, Leigh, Bury and Chester postcodes but there are no tests available anywhere.’

Dr Claire Sillitoe, who lives in southwest London, was forced to cancel appointments with patients on Monday after her daughter fell ill and she was unable to get a test.

She said: ‘I wasn’t willing to put my patients at risk, so I was stuck in a really difficult position.’ 

One father from Nottingham, Mahmoon Rasheed, had to book a test in Edinburgh, 279 miles away, after his daughter developed mild Covid-19 symptoms last week.

The 34-year-old told Nottinghamshire Live: ‘On Friday morning I decided if I got an appointment I would just accept it as it had been far too long and her school did not want to take children back without a test.’

People have also taken to social media to share their stories of struggling to get a coronavirus test.

One disgruntled Twitter user posted: ‘I have Covid symptoms, live in Co. Durham, Government website offered a free test in Scotland, would take nearly four and a half hours to drive there and back – for someone who is ill.

‘Didn’t book test – if I become more ill today, what happens if I am too ill to drive myself home?’

Another said: ‘Just phoned 119 after the doctor said I have symptoms of Covid and need a test before I start steroids and antibiotics.

‘119 said there are no tests anywhere for 3/4 days!! Brilliant’.

Craig Slattery wrote this morning: ‘There are currently no tests available in West Sussex, yesterday we drove two hours and were turned away without a test.

‘I’m pretty sure my son doesn’t have Covid but without a test he can’t go back to school. The system is on the verge of collapse.’

A fourth added: ‘My son lives in Durham and was refused a local Covid test.

‘He was told Edinburgh was his closest testing centre (280 mile round trip) and advised that where possible to cycle to his appointment!’ 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has urged the public to not ‘game the system’ by changing their postcodes when requesting a test.

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33254220 8738877 image m 134 1600260138442

People have also taken to social media, above, to share their stories of struggling to get a coronavirus test in West Sussex and Durham

People have also taken to social media, above, to share their stories of struggling to get a coronavirus test in West Sussex and Durham

But a glitch, revealed by staff, meant that entering a postcode 400 miles away would help Britons book a spot in Twickenham stadium – while those who entered their real addresses were told to travel to sites much farther away.

Mr Hancock earlier told the House of Commons there are ‘operational challenges’ with testing which the Government is ‘working hard’ to fix.

Patients who believe they have coronavirus symptoms can only get a Covid-19 test by requesting an appointment at a government testing centre.

Applicants must register their details, including their address, and are then supposed to be offered appointment times at testing centre nearby.

But, according to the government’s website, the service is currently ‘very busy’ and urges people to ‘try again in a few hours’ if they cannot book a test, or the location and times are not convenient.

A Government spokesperson said: ‘Testing capacity is the highest it has ever been, but we are seeing a significant demand for tests. It is vital that children and school staff only get a test if they develop coronavirus symptoms.

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‘If a positive case is confirmed in a school, swift action is being taken to ask those who have been in close contact to self-isolate, and Public Health England’s local health protection teams continue to support and advise schools in this situation.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘NHS Test and Trace is working, our capacity is the highest it has ever been and but we are seeing a significant demand for tests.

‘New booking slots and home testing kits are made available daily for people with symptoms and we are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, and prioritising at-risk groups.

‘Our laboratories are processing more than a million tests a week and we recently announced new facilities and technology to process results even faster.’

Have you had problems getting a Covid test? Call 02036152973 or email katie.weston@mailonline.co.uk

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CRAIG BROWN: With hindsight, John Forsyte is even more of a saga

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craig brown with hindsight john forsyte is even more of a saga

 Times change, often without our noticing. Just over 50 years ago, the dramatisation of John Galsworthy’s Forsyte Saga gained an audience of 18 million viewers when it was shown on BBC1.

Broadcast every Sunday for six months, it had the unintended effect of upsetting several vicars, who complained that their congregations had abandoned Evensong in order to watch it.

One episode was particularly striking. In it, the crusty Soames Forsyte (Eric Porter) discovers that his beautiful young wife, Irene (Nyree Dawn Porter), is conducting an affair with an architect called Bossiney. When she returns home, he corners her. ‘Where have you been? Tell me at once, where have you been?’ he cries.

Soames Forsyte  discovers that his wife, Irene  is having an affair

Soames Forsyte  discovers that his wife, Irene  is having an affair 

‘In heaven,’ she replies, luxuriating in the memory. Soames sees red. They tussle, and he chases Irene down a corridor. She tries to close a door, but he jams his foot in it. His intentions are all too clear.

‘Don’t!’ she screams. ‘Kill me if you like! I’d rather you killed me!’

‘There’s no need to kill you — anybody can have you, can’t they?’

Soames rips her dress. ‘You’re my wife!’ he shouts. ‘You’re my wife, you’re my wife, you’re my wife!’ The viewer is left in no doubt as to what will happen next.

After this controversial episode was broadcast, the current affairs programme Late Night Line-Up asked 100 people in London’s Oxford Street who they supported — the rapist Soames, or his unfaithful wife, Irene?

Today, the results may be surprising to say the least: 54 per cent of those interviewed were on the side of Soames, and only 39 per cent for Irene, with 7 per cent ‘Indifferent’.

Gender didn’t come into it, with each side split equally between men and women.

In the vox pop interviews, the Oxford Street shoppers explain why they blame Irene, rather than Soames.

‘She’s a bit of a bitch really, always trying to get her own way,’ says one woman. A man next to her agrees. ‘Very selfish. You wouldn’t want to have married her.’ An older woman also takes Soames’ side. ‘I think he’s very much misunderstood. I think he is nice underneath.’

After this controversial episode was broadcast, the current affairs programme Late Night Line-Up asked 100 people in London’s Oxford Street who they supported

After this controversial episode was broadcast, the current affairs programme Late Night Line-Up asked 100 people in London’s Oxford Street who they supported

A very jazzy young woman goes even further. ‘I sympathise throughout with him. He’s my type, very nice.’

‘He’s a very good man, he’s very kind,’ agrees an Asian man.

An older woman in a hat says, ‘I think he’s very nice as men go. I think he’d make a good husband. He doesn’t deprive her of anything, does he?’

A West Indian lady disagrees. ‘A woman likes a little bit of romance before the animal act,’ she argues. Asked if he feels sorry for Irene, a middle-aged man says: ‘No, I feel sorry for him. That’s why he had to rape her — because she was no good to him.’

There follows a panel discussion, chaired by the young Joan Bakewell, with two people arguing for Soames, and two against.

One of them had already written that Irene ‘would be best buried at the Kingston by-pass roundabout with a stake driven through her heart’.

Another, a woman, agrees with this judgment, saying that the rape scene ‘leaves me with a much greater distaste for Irene … To me, Soames is the ideal husband.’

The most prominent of the panel is Sir Gerald Nabarro, known for courting controversy and espousing the flogging of muggers and the repatriation of immigrants.

As such, he might have been expected to take Soames’s side. Instead, he comes down firmly on the side of Irene, condemning Soames as ‘not a companionable, matrimonial type’, and incapable of love.

The Forsyte Saga gained an audience of 18 million viewers when it was shown on BBC1

The Forsyte Saga gained an audience of 18 million viewers when it was shown on BBC1

One of the women on the panel disagrees, saying that Irene should have forgiven Soames. ‘I say it was a crime passionnel, which means it was innocent — surely she could have forgiven it?’

It’s hard to imagine that many people would admit to these views today. And, even if they did, would the BBC ever broadcast them?

Yet, at the time, they were obviously middle-of-the-road, and delivered with a cheery matter- of-factness.

Fifty years from now, which of today’s mainstream opinions will appear similarly outlandish?

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CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: Is prankster Grayson Perry laughing up his pink leather sleeve at us all? 

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christopher stevens is prankster grayson perry laughing up his pink leather sleeve at us all

Grayson Perry’s Big American Road Trip

Rating: rating showbiz 2

Ambulance

Rating: rating showbiz 2

All right, you fooled me. I fell for it. 

It’s so obvious now, but the idea never really hit me before that potter Grayson Perry is a prankster, having a gigantic laugh at the gullible luvvies of the liberal Left.

Grayson is a boisterously likeable TV personality who doesn’t seem to care whether we take him and his flamboyant persona too seriously. 

Last week, he courted outrage in the art world by announcing that Right-wingers are friendlier, nicer people than Corbynistas.

Even Grayson Perry's psychedelic motorbike and comic-book biker gear, designed for his Big American Road Trip (C4), are in character

Even Grayson Perry’s psychedelic motorbike and comic-book biker gear, designed for his Big American Road Trip (C4), are in character

His slapdash ceramics, his insistence on sometimes dressing in women’s clothes and calling himself Claire, his affected obsession with his childhood teddy bear ‘Alan Measles’ — it all seems eccentric and art student-ish in just the right measure.

Even his psychedelic motorbike and comic-book biker gear, designed for his Big American Road Trip (C4), are in character. 

But I suspect Grayson is laughing up his pink leather sleeve at us all. We are being mocked.

How else can you explain his decision to examine the racial divide in American society by meeting only the wealthiest, most successful black people and asking them to explain about ‘white privilege’?

His slapdash ceramics, his insistence on sometimes dressing in women's clothes and calling himself Claire seems eccentric and art student-ish in just the right measure

His slapdash ceramics, his insistence on sometimes dressing in women’s clothes and calling himself Claire seems eccentric and art student-ish in just the right measure

No one doubts that for many black Americans, in a country where segregation was the norm within living memory, life is deeply unfair. Prejudice and racism are endemic in the States.

However, despite spending most of the first hour in Atlanta, Georgia — where unemployment is four times higher for black people than whites — Grayson focused exclusively on the super-rich.

Sheree Whitfield, star of reality show The Real Housewives Of Atlanta, gave him a tour of her home with its spa, disco, bar, gym and cinema. 

‘Another big room,’ murmured the artist, as Sheree showed him into the palatial lounge.

She dabbed her eyes and sighed that it wasn’t easy being neck-deep in money — some of her old friends barely spoke to her now.

Grayson went golfing with a Mercedes-driving businessman named Emerick, and in Washington DC enjoyed a dinner party in his honour thrown by Dr Carlotta Miles, whose African-American family are pillars of the establishment.

Then he invited a performance poet called Kyla to give him a dressing down, for failing to understand how oppressed black people are. 

Even Sacha Baron Cohen, creator of Ali G, would hesitate to make a show about the super-rich, and then pretend to be making a profound statement on racial politics.

I’m not sure whether to laugh it off or to kick myself for taking Grayson seriously for so long.

Ambulance (BBC1) was also taped well before the Black Lives Matter protests were echoed in the UK

Ambulance (BBC1) was also taped well before the Black Lives Matter protests were echoed in the UK

He filmed his trip months before the death of George Floyd and the advent of the Black Lives Matter protests.

Ambulance (BBC1) was also taped well before those demonstrations were echoed in the UK, but it didn’t matter, because there were plenty of other marchers on the streets.

One pregnant woman who fainted on Oxford Street found herself surrounded by a flash mob from Extinction Rebellion, blocking the traffic in every direction. 

Stuck with an ambulance that was going nowhere, the patient elected to walk to hospital. Lucky for everyone that she wasn’t more dangerously ill.

Sadly, two of the stories ended badly. 

Both were cardiac arrests, and in both cases the paramedics managed to get the heart beating again, only to prolong the death throes.

Ambulance doesn’t usually deliver such downbeat, grim case studies. 

It feels as though this series, perhaps hampered by Covid-19 restrictions, is running out of material.

It feels as though this series, perhaps hampered by Covid-19 restrictions, is running out of material

It feels as though this series, perhaps hampered by Covid-19 restrictions, is running out of material

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Coronavirus UK: Entrepreneurs warn future of nation is under threat

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coronavirus uk entrepreneurs warn future of nation is under threat

The horrifying cost of Boris Johnson’s six-month Covid clampdown was dramatically laid bare last night.

Business chiefs and hospitality groups issued a string of dire warnings over the impact of the restrictions, saying millions of jobs were now on the line.

They said the Prime Minister’s U-turn on his ‘get back to work’ message could spell doom for struggling high streets, with footfall plummeting and shops boarded up.

In a passionate intervention, a prominent entrepreneur said the prosperity of the nation was at stake. 

In a passionate intervention to Boris Johnson¿s six-month Covid clampdown, Julian Metcalfe, who founded Pret A Manger and Itsu, says the prosperity of the nation is now at stake

In a passionate intervention to Boris Johnson’s six-month Covid clampdown, Julian Metcalfe, who founded Pret A Manger and Itsu, says the prosperity of the nation is now at stake

Julian Metcalfe, who founded Pret A Manger and Itsu, said: ‘The repercussions of this six months are going to be devastating to so many, to local councils, to industry, to people all over our country.

‘We have not begun to touch the seriousness of this. This talk of six months is criminal.’

Despite ballooning national debt, Rishi Sunak is preparing a multi-billion-pound ‘winter economy plan’ to try to protect jobs.

The Chancellor signalled the true extent of the crisis by cancelling plans for a full-scale Budget in November. Sources said he accepted the country could no longer make long-term financial decisions.

Despite ballooning national debt, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is preparing a multi-billion-pound ¿winter economy plan¿ to try to protect jobs

Despite ballooning national debt, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is preparing a multi-billion-pound ‘winter economy plan’ to try to protect jobs

As the Archbishops of Canterbury and York warned of the economic costs of Covid:

  • Hospitality groups said a quarter of pubs and restaurants could go bust this year;
  • HMRC and Goldman Sachs were among employers abandoning their drives to get people back to the office;
  • Pictures showed high streets boarded up as shops reacted to the clampdown;
  • The travel industry faced fresh despair when Downing Street warned of the risk of booking half-term holidays;
  • Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza are keeping two thirds of outlets shut;
  • A major study warned countless patients were living with worsening heart disease, diabetes and mental health because of the lockdown;
  • MPs demanded extra help for theatre and music venues;
  • No 10 said a ban on household visits could be extended across large swathes of England;
  • A mobile tracing app is finally being rolled out today – four months late;
  • Matt Hancock’s target for half a million virus tests a day by the end of next month was under threat from equipment shortages;
  • Scientific advisers suggested that students could be told to remain on campus over Christmas.

In a dramatic television address to the nation on Tuesday, Mr Johnson announced he was abruptly dropping his call – made repeatedly since the end of lockdown – for workers to return to the office. He also told pubs and restaurants to shut their doors at 10pm, and doubled fines for not wearing a mask or failing to obey the rule of six.

He indicated the measures were likely to last for six months at least.

Mr Metcalfe led the backlash against the curbs on BBC Radio 4’s World at One, saying he did not know whether Itsu could survive the measures.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (left) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson leave 10 Downing Street, for a Cabinet meeting to be held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London, ahead of MPs returning to Westminster after the summer recess on September 1

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (left) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson leave 10 Downing Street, for a Cabinet meeting to be held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London, ahead of MPs returning to Westminster after the summer recess on September 1

He added: ‘People who work in hotels, restaurants, takeaways and in coffee shops are devastated. A great many are closing down – we’re losing thousands upon thousands of jobs. 

‘How long can this continue, this vague “work from home”, “don’t go on public transport”? The ramifications of this are just enormous.’

Mr Metcalfe accused the Prime Minister of ‘sitting down with his Union Jack talking utter nonsense’.

He said: ‘To turn to an entire nation and say “stay at home for six months”, and to spout off Churchillian nonsense about we’ll make it through – it’s terribly unhelpful. It should be “we will review the situation each week, each hour”.’

Tory MP Desmond Swayne said the Government had made the wrong call, adding: ‘I am concerned the cure could be worse than the disease.’

Tom Stainer, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale, warned the clampdown could see the closure of many pubs. 

‘Pub-goers and publicans alike want to stop the spread of Covid, but this curfew is an arbitrary restriction that unfairly targets the hospitality sector and will have a devastating impact on pubs, jobs and communities,’ he added.

Rob Pitcher of Revolution Bars said: ‘It’s beyond belief that they have brought in the 10pm curfew with no evidence to back it up.’

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Fashion mogul Sir Paul Smith warned the pandemic was proving devastating to his and other industries.

A former head of the civil service will today say Mr Johnson’s government has proved incapable of combating Covid.

Lord O’Donnell, a crossbench peer, will say in a lecture that ministers did not use adequate data and deferred too much to medical science at the expense of behavioural and economic experts. 

He will also allege there has been a lack of strong leadership and clear strategy. 

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