People in West Country told to only book coronavirus test if showing symptoms

  • Report by Max Walsh

People in the West Country are being told to 'only book a coronavirus test if you have symptoms'.

This warning follows a drastic increase in the demand for coronavirus tests across the country.

In the week commencing Monday 7 September, 7000 people were tested in Somerset.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted the UK doesn't have enough coronavirus  testing capacity and has promised it would increase to 500,000 by the end of October.

The government has been heavily criticised over the testing system, with some people having to wait days for a result and others being told to drive for hours to get a test.

The Prime Minister blamed the testing shortage on people seeking to book a test without experiencing coronavirus symptoms.

Chair of the Somerset Coronavirus Engagement Board, Cllr David Fothergill said, “Only book a Coronavirus test if you are displaying symptoms.

"This includes a fever, a new dry persistent cough and/or a loss of taste and smell.

 “If you have a test when you’re not displaying symptoms, the result could be negative which may not be the case.

"You could still be incubating the disease and become infectious.”

“Going for a test when you don’t need it prevents essential key workers or those with symptoms being able to get a slot."

Residents across the West Country have spoken of their frustrations about trying to book a test.

Residents across the West Country who have been showing coronavirus symptoms, have spoken of their frustrations about trying to book a test.

Neil Hyde from Sherborne, told ITV News about his ordeal trying to book a test.

Hundreds of people contacted ITV News West Country to share their experiences.

Amber Currie

"I needed to book a test for my children so they could return to school. Couldn't get hold of any home kits, website crashed, rang 119 twice and they were useless and it took 24 hours to finally get a drive in booking - 70miles away and in Wales!"

Abbie Asadi

"Kids sent home Monday lunchtime. From that moment I kept trying to get an appointment slot. I gave up due to watching firstly appointments disappear locally in front of my eyes it seemed, then due to it not recognising my postcode and then due to no test sites being available.

"I randomly refreshed two days later and got Cardiff which is an 180 mile round trip. I tried taking the QR code to our local site (1/2 a mile away) to be told the rules had changed on Monday to not accept codes for other sites yet they’d had 100’s of people from all over the country. We eventually got to Cardiff and the process was smooth once there but the journey to it was despicable."

Mark A Chapman

"I tried to book my daughter an appointment online and nothing available. I called the Covid19 helpline on 119 and asked for help... nearest one to me was over 2 hours away.... just not good enough."

Philippa De Ronne

"I have been trying for 3 solid days now, glued to the laptop from morning til night, refreshing constantly only for the message ‘no test sites available’. It is so infuriating!

"I would happily drive as far as needed to get a test just to get back to normality. My children have only been back in school a week and now due to government guidance we all have to isolate for 14 days. My eldest daughter is in her GCSE year. It’s so worrying."

Hundreds of people contacted ITV News West Country to share their experiences. Credit: PA images

The proportion of in-person Covid-19 test results returned within 24 hours in the week to September 9 is 33.3% – the lowest since the week to June 17, when the figure stood at 31.3%.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pledged that, by the end of June, the results of all in-person tests would be back within 24 hours.

He told the House of Commons on June 3 he would get “all tests turned around within 24 hours by the end of June, except for difficulties with postal tests or insuperable problems like that”.

Meanwhile, just 1.9% of people in England who used a home test kit for Covid-19 received their result within 24 hours in the week to September 9.

This is the lowest percentage since Test and Trace was launched at the end of May.

Some 9.3% of people received the result of a home test within 48 hours. This is the lowest percentage since the week to June 10, when the figure stood at 9.1%.

What are the coronavirus symptoms?

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)

  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal