Government apologises after Coronavirus home testing kits run out

24 April 2020, 11:27

NHS staff carry out Coronavirus tests at a testing facility in Bracebridge Heath, Lincoln
NHS staff carry out Coronavirus tests at a testing facility in Bracebridge Heath, Lincoln. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Coronavirus home testing kits have already run out on the day of launch for a new programme hoping to test millions of essential workers.

The Government is hoping to boost testing numbers by allowing key workers who have symptoms, or where a member of their family has symptoms, to test at home.

But the kits, available on the website, ran out by mid-morning , with only drive-through centre appointments available.

It is not known how many kits were initially available.

Earlier on Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told LBC the "super simple booking system" would "make it as easy as possible for people to get tests."

The Government has apologised for any inconvenience and said they were trying to "rapidly increase availability."

A statement on the site said: “Sorry, we have issued all of today's viral swab testing kits. Please come back tomorrow.

"This service is ordinarily available from 8am to 8pm.

"To order a COVID-19 Home Test Kit, please return to this service tomorrow during these hours.

"You can still get tested at a regional test centre. Please visit the key worker self referral service.

"We are currently expanding our allocation of home test kits on a daily basis."

The tests had all been issued by mid-morning
The tests had all been issued by mid-morning. Picture: Screen Grab

Mr Hancock said the new system would boost the number of tests being completed in a bid to raise the daily total to 100,000 by April 30 - just six days away.

Just 23,560 tests were carried out in the 24 hours to 9am on 23 April – under a quarter of that.

On capacity, he said: “We got to 51,000 the day before yesterday as I announced yesterday, that was 10,000 higher than the day before. It’s going up by about 10,000 a day.

“We always planned it to go up more sharply at the end of the month because at the beginning of the month we were building the systems.

“We’ve been automating the process and now we’re on the ramp-up.

“As you say, we’ve had excess capacity, we’ve wanted more people to come forward, and now with this super simple booking system, I hope more people can come forward and use the capacity that’s available.

“There’s a lot done and there’s a lot more to do.”

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On the number of testing sites seen empty, Mr Hancock said: “It’s because we’ve been building the capacity and building this IT system which we’ve launched this morning so that people can get the easy access and now we’re able to open it up.

“I very much hope that we’ll get the demand to use the capacity we’ve built as we ramp up to 100,000 tests a day by the end of next week.”

The Department for Health and Social Care have been contacted for a comment.