Urgent call for more access to coronavirus tests in North Somerset

People in North Somerset have been sent hundreds of miles away for coronavirus tests, despite there

People in North Somerset have been sent hundreds of miles away for coronavirus tests, despite there being three local sites. - Credit: Archant

Council leaders in North Somerset are calling for improved access to coronavirus tests locally following reports of people being sent hundreds of miles away.

Don Davies, leader of the council, has written to Matt Hancock calling for urgent action to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

The authority fears if access is not improved immediately, people could stop trying to get a test and may not isolate even if they are infectious.

There are also concerns people may get tested too late for the swab to pick up the infection, which could lead to the virus spreading.

Cllr Davies is calling on the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to improve access to Covid-19 tests immediately.

He said: “It’s just not good enough. We are working hard locally with the community to identify and stop outbreaks before they can spread.

“But being able to access tests is key to this, and time after time people are struggling to get tested and are often being sent hundreds of miles away.

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“We have three testing centres in North Somerset, so there is seemingly no shortage of testing capacity and yet people can’t access the provision.

“These individuals are trying to do the right thing by seeking a test but have limited means to do so. This needs to be resolved urgently.”

This issue of local testing has also been raised by the council over the past three weeks through a number of regional and national forums.

The authority is also concerned the lack of tests or delayed results will mean it could miss out on vital information which helps it to monitor emerging outbreaks – posing a risk to public health.

Cllr Davies added: “Having received so much feedback from our residents, I felt compelled to write to the Secretary of State and ask for this situation to be resolved as a matter of great urgency. I look forward to his response.”

Anyone with symptoms should self-isolate for 10 days, and their household members should isolate for 14 days. Close contacts of confirmed cases are asked to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms, to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.

Everyone is encouraged to continue to follow Government advice on social distancing, self-isolation, wearing face coverings and practising good hand hygiene.