CORONAVIRUS test centres have been swamped by huge queues as a 240,000 backlog leaves desperate Brits unable to get swabbed.
Sites were overwhelmed with families trying to get tests to allow them to get back to work or school – with many turning up without appointments today.
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Centres in Southend, Bury, Bedford, Oldham, London, and Southampton were flooded by people eager to get swabbed.
The crowds come as it was revealed yesterday that no tests were available in 46 out of 48 of the nation’s worst Covid hotspots.
And a backlog of 240,000 tests has now built up which will not be cleared until deep into autumn or beyond — when millions of people will be at risk of cold and flu symptoms similar to coronavirus.
The breakdown in the system has also left doctors, nurses, care home residents and teachers all unable to get checked for the killer virus.
Around 200,000 tests a day are being completed at the moment, but there is capacity for more than 300,000.
But Boris Johnson insisted today the turn around of in-person tests was high – with 89 per cent of people getting results the next day.
He said: "We are working very fast to turn around all the test requests that we get.
"I think most people looking at the record of this country in delivering tests across this nation will see that it actually compares extremely well with any other European country."
He acknowledged the frustration around the demand for tests, but said capacity was being increased and said the Government wanted 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.
The Prime Minister also admitted he was “concerned about the rates of infection in care homes” with Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner warning him that “we are staring down the barrel of a second wave with no plan for the looming crisis”.
In Bolton, Greater Manchester, a hospital boss urged people to say away from its A&E department unless absolutely necessary after nearly 100 people turned up trying to get a Covid test.
Dr Francis Andrews, from Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said they “cannot afford for this situation to worsen” after seeing an increase in patients admitted to hospital with the virus.
He said: “The rate continuing to rise is of concern and we continue to urge the people of Bolton to consider others when making decisions that could jeopardise their safety.”
It comes as the Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted today that Covid tests would be prioritised for people with acute clinical needs and those in social care following a nationwide shortage.
It means children, who are least at risk from coronavirus, are likely to be at the back of the queue, along with parents.
He said: “I don’t shirk from decisions about prioritisation.
“They are not always comfortable, but they are important.
“We’ll set out an updated prioritisation and I do not rule out further steps to make sure our tests are used according to those priorities.”
One school chain said one in thirty of their kids had been sent home and was forced to isolate over spiralling cases.
One per cent of all the 24,000 schools in England were not fully open over cases of coronavirus, Department for Education stats said yesterday.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said keeping schools open would become "unsustainable" if issues with testing capacity were not fixed.
Emma Knights, the chief executive of the National Governance Association, added: "Governing boards are increasingly concerned about the numbers of pupils and staff awaiting tests and the damage that this might do to parents' confidence in sending children to school."
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