Coronavirus tests have been at the centre of controversy in recent days amid reports that there is a shortage and those in need are unable to get tested.
According to reports, tests were only available in two of England’s top virus hotspots yesterday – with people unable to book walk-in, drive-through or home tests in nearly all of the country’s most affected areas despite repeated government promises to deliver a ‘world-beating’ system.
People have even been reportedly queueing at hospital A&E departments for tests, amid claims that people have been sent to testing centres hundreds of miles away from where they live.
If you need to book a test, how can you find out where your nearest testing centre is – and what should you do if you cannot get an appointment?
How can you find your nearest Covid testing centre?
These are the locations of the Covid testing centres in the UK.
- Birmingham (Midland Metropolitan)
- Lee Valley
- Milton Keynes
- NHS Nightingale London
The test booking system is available on the NHS website – or call 119 (0300 303 2713 in Scotland) if you’re having trouble using the online service.
The NHS is currently advising that you should only be tested for Covid-19 if you have symptoms of the virus – a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss of sense of smell or taste – or if you have been asked to get a test for another reason (if you are about to have surgery, for example).
Essential employees and key workers can also be tested if they have been referred to the test centre by their employer.
They advise that a test should be done within the first five days of symptoms appearing.
What should you do if you cannot get an appointment?
The NHS currently advises on its website that if you cannot get an appointment, or the time or location are not convenient, to try again after a few hours as more appointments may have become available.
They also advise against calling the helpline if no tests are available to book online, as they will not have additional tests available.
If the nearest testing site is too far away, the site says that you can request a home test kit instead – however you need to do this no later than 3pm on the fourth day of symptoms having started.
Despite this advice, many have been experiencing difficulties in recent days, and the Government has now said that tests are being rationed – and that those in care homes and with acute medical needs will be prioritised.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted there had been ‘operational challenges’ recently but insisted they would be solved ‘in a matter of weeks’ as he came under fire in the Commons this week.
An updated prioritisation list will soon be published to set out who will be at the front of the queue for testing, as prioritisation becomes ‘a choice that we must make’, he said.
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