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Saudi Press Agency

UK's creaking COVID-19 test system puts health services at risk

Saudi Press Agency

Tuesday 1442/1/27 - 2020/09/15

London, Sept 15, 2020, SPA -- Britain's testing system for COVID-19 was creaking on Tuesday as a bottleneck prevented people including medics from getting a test, with the government saying it may take weeks to resolve the problem, Reuters reported today.

In an attempt to slow one of the highest coronavirus death tolls in the West, Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised in May to create a "world beating" system to test and trace people exposed to the virus.

Phil Sands, a medical engineer, who builds and repairs medical equipment at University College Hospital in London, said he had been off work for the last two days after one of his daughters developed a cold over the weekend.

Sands said he had tried more than 50 times to log on to the government's website to book a test, but each time it either said there are none available or the system crashes.

"It is frustrating that I can't work, I have no symptoms, there is nothing with me, but following the guidelines I have to stay home until I can prove that I don't have COVID-19 or the (quarantine) time has passed," he told Reuters.

Attempts by Reuters reporters to get a COVID-19 test on Tuesday were greeted with a notice on the government's website saying: "This service is currently very busy. More tests should be available later."

Britain advises those showing symptoms to get a test though it says the system has been burdened by people with no symptoms asking for tests. Some schools have demanded any ill students get a test or stay away for 14 days.

Britain's health minister said the government was working hard to fix what he said were "operational challenges" in the testing system caused by a surge in demand and that it may take weeks to resolve the shortages.

21:16 LOCAL TIME 18:16 GMT

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