Wednesday 23 September 2020

Coronavirus testing hit by capacity problems, as more people come forward

Testing at a drive through centre. Photo:

Health ministry officials have asked local health boards not to expand their coronavirus testing programmes because labs where the swabs are processed cannot cope with the growth.

This means no new test centres will be opened and the opening times of current centres will not be expanded until the labs are up to speed, the ministry said in a statement.

Last week, over 140,000 tests were carried out, a rise of 40,000 on the previous seven day period. The increase followed two weeks of decline, which had prompted ministers to appeal to potential patients to come forward.

Capacity is already at bursting point in many places, and on Wednesday, MPS said testing should be extended at both Schiphol and three regional airports.

‘At the moment, everyone who registers can get a test,’ the ministry said. ‘But we have to make sure we don’t end up saying ‘no’, if the growth in demand continues.’

In addition, to make sure that capacity is used properly, the ministry said only people who show symptoms should come forward for testing.

‘Someone can test negative today, but can have symptoms and a positive result a few days later,’ the ministry said. ‘In addition, it is crucial that people who do show symptoms have proper access to tests.’

Capacity is being expanded across the board to cope with the expected rise in respiratory complaints as autumn kicks in.

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