Coronavirus: ‘Absolute shambles’ as people with symptoms turned away from Ilford walk-in testing centre
PUBLISHED: 10:20 14 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:07 14 September 2020
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People have been turned away from the testing centre in Ilford as coronavirus cases continue to remain at high levels not seen since May.
A number of people without appointments at the only testing centre in the borough, in Mildmay Road Car Park, were turned away over the weekend, and only told those with appointments were allowed in.
However residents have complained there are no booking slots available online and found it difficult to get through by calling 119.
The seven-day rolling average of coronavirus cases has been more than 30 per 100,000 people for eight consecutive days.
The current rate of infection as of cases from Friday, September 11 is 34.40 per 100,000 people.
Deanne Lodge tried to book a test appointment online for her seven-year-old son who showed coronavirus symptoms, but the website said there were no sites found close to her location.
She went to the Mildmay testing site as soon as it opened on Sunday at 8am and called the scene there an “absolute shambles”.
She said: “There was a long queue of people and one gentlemen at the front who was coughing and showing clear signs of coronavirus who was desperate to get in.
“The guard told us we couldn’t go in without an appointment and I had to show him the council’s website which clearly states that the site accepts walk-in appointments.”
After verifying that, Deanne and her son were let in along with the other people at the front of the queue, but when she left she witnessed more people being turned away.
Ilford MPs Sam Tarry and Wes Streeting today (Monday, September 14) sent a joint letter to health secretary Matt Hancock, saying it was “clearly and totally unacceptable” that the testing centre was closed to walk-ins.
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They also called on the “rapid expansion of testing capability across Ilford, Redbridge and neighbouring boroughs similarly affected.”
The MPs also criticised the government’s “moonshot” proposals to get testing for every single UK resident and said it should be “replaced with a relentless and laser like focus on getting the basics of a fully functional test, track and trace system in place.
“Acting now to increase capacity in affected areas like Ilford will undoubtedly save lives.”
On Sunday council leader Jas Athwal and cabinet member for social care, mental health and the ageing, Cllr Mark Santos also wrote a joint letter to the secretary of state and called for testing capacity to be increased through the deployment of an additional mobile testing site.
Sabina, a key worker who tried to book a home test after she found out she had a temperature received a message that there are no more kits available.
She said: “The fact that a key worker can’t be sent a home test is completely crazy.”
She has four children in different schools and now needs to figure out whether she needs to pull them out of school until she can get tested.
She added: “How are we helping to reduce the spread of the virus if even key workers can’t get home tests? We’re not, are we?”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “NHS Test and Trace is working and our capacity is the highest it has ever been but we are seeing a significant demand for tests including from people who do not have symptoms and are not otherwise eligible.
“New booking slots and home testing kits are made available daily for those who need them and we are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, and prioritising at-risk groups.
“Our laboratories are processing more than a million tests a week and we recently announced new facilities and technology to process results even faster. If you do not have symptoms and are not eligible to get a test you can continue to protect yourself if you wash your hands, wear a face covering and follow social distancing rules.”
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