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Dido Harding, head of the UK’s test-and-trace programme and the newly created National Institute for Health Protection, has told parliament’s science and technology committee that demand for coronavirus tests across the UK is three to four times higher than capacity.
The total capacity is now 242,817 tests, 82,817 in the NHS (known as pillar 1) and 160,000 in the community (pillar 2). The numbers have not been published since 10 September, but Harding promised they would now be published every day.
She said a quarter of those seeking a test did not have symptoms. Surveys outside the testing centres found that 27% of people turning up did not have at least one symptom.
Harding said there was “significantly more demand than capacity”. Officials were estimating demand from the number of people calling 119 and the number of visitors to the website, she told MPs. They are “three to four times the number of tests we currently have available, but there will be some double counting in that”.
Some people would be making multiple calls from mobiles and landlines, she said. But the demand was “multiples of the total test capacity we have today”.
Asked by Greg Clark, the chair of the committee, whether she was saying that 27% were lying, she said that those who arrived on foot without an appointment had not ticked a box online to say they had a symptom.
“I completely understand why people are worried and scared,” she added.
More to follow …
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Demand for Covid tests up to four times UK capacity, says Harding | World news