NO coronavirus tests were available in England’s top 10 hotspots yesterday, it is claimed.
The revelation came as large areas of the UK battle a surge in Covid cases.
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Ministers are now drawing up plans to restrict “frivolous demands” for tests, The Times reports.
More than 200,000 tests are currently being carried out each day, but demand is much higher.
One source told the paper: “We are in for a rough few weeks.”
Labs are understood to be struggling to process all the samples being sent to them, forcing test centres to cut back on appointments.
And it means hundreds of people with Covid symptoms are waiting more than five days for a result.
Yesterday an LBC reporter tried to request a test in each of the areas on the Public Health England watchlist – but was reportedly unable to get any.
Swabs were not available in Bolton, Greater Manchester, which is fighting the largest outbreak of coronavirus in England with 122 cases for every 100,000 people.
Salford, Bradford, Blackburn and Darwen, Oldham, Preston, Pendle, Rochdale, Tameside and Manchester were also off limits, according to LBC.
The Government’s online testing portal returned an error message saying there were no home test kits, drive-through or walk-in sites available.
The website reportedly returned a message saying: “This service is currently very busy. More tests should be available later.
“If you cannot book a test now, or the location or time are not convenient, try again in a few hours. Do not call the helplines – you will not be able to get a test this way.”
Westminster reporter Ben Kentish said attempts to get tests in any of the top 10 hotspots were unsuccessful.
“The government testing website simply says the service is very busy and people should come back in a few hours,” he said.
“We tried to get a test in the top ten areas. In all ten they were unable to get any sort of tests in any of the ten areas.”
Booking slots for tests are believed to have become available again today.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “It is wrong to say testing is not available in these areas, and our capacity continues to be targeted where it is needed most.
“Whilst we are seeing significant demand, over a million tests are being processed every week – with around 200,000 every day on average over the last week.”
Meanwhile health chiefs have warned that hospitals are turning away patients as a result of the testing chaos.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers said doctors, nurses and other frontline workers were being forced to stay at home because they were unable to get tests for themselves or their kids.
He added that operations and appointments were being cancelled, because patients booked in for surgery were unable to access tests.
Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the £100 billion Operation Moonshot plan which could see 10 million daily Covid-19 tests dished out to Brits.
The PM vowed to roll out new tests which can deliver results in just 15 minutes.