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Coronavirus testing chaos: Cambridge resident told to go to Aberdeen for Covid-19 test

The government has come under fire for the chaotic state of the coronavirus testing regime, which has led to Cambridge residents being directed to Heathrow, Birmingham, Bradford and even Aberdeen to get a Covid-19 test.

The Cambridge Independent has learned that hundreds of people have been turned away from the testing centre at Milton Park & Ride today alone (Monday) because the system does not have the capacity to deal with them.

A swab is taken at a drive-through Covid-19 testing site
A swab is taken at a drive-through Covid-19 testing site

Many are finding the government testing website is busy, or offers no local tests, while those calling the 119 phone line are facing long waits.

One parent told us: “We are having an absolute nightmare booking a drive-through coronavirus test in Milton for our 10-year-old son, who has developed a nasty cough. Although we’re getting to the screen listing available slots we’re not getting a confirmation email or text message through after making our selection.”

Cambridge’s Labour MP Daniel Zeichner said he had received a flood of complaints, despite health secretary Matt Hancock pledging on Monday that no one should have to travel more than 75 miles each way to get a test.

One Cambridge resident was advised to travel the 490 miles to Aberdeen.

Aberdeen: Worth a visit?
Aberdeen: Worth a visit?

Constituents have told him they have sat refreshing their computer browser for eight hours to get a test, while others have endured long waits on the phone and been cut off on multiple occasions - a situation that is causing people to miss work and school.

He said: “Without an effective vaccine, a functioning test and trace system is the only way to safely reopen society and to allow people to get back to work and school more quickly rather than being stuck in isolation. Sadly the government has been exposed as incompetent again.”

Last week, the director of the NHS test and trace system issued a “heartfelt” apology to those in England who have been unable to secure a test or been told to travel hundreds of miles.

Sarah-Jane Marsh said it was the laboratories, not the testing sites themselves, that had reached a “critical pinch-point”.

There has been criticism that the government was slow to mobilise the army of private diagnostic testing laboratories to aid the cause.

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