Coronavirus home testing kits run out in less than half an hour on second day of launch

25 April 2020, 09:47

Coronavirus home tests ran out in 30 minutes today
Coronavirus home tests ran out in 30 minutes today. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Coronavirus home testing kits have run out in less than half an hour on the second day of the programme's launch.

The government's official website showed no Covid-19 home test kits were available by 8:30am on Saturday morning, meaning the kits have now rapidly run out two days in a row.

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said 10 million essential workers were now eligible for tests, with the government coming under increasing pressure to increase testing capacity.

However, for two days the system has been overwhelmed with applications.

The government's website says home testing kits are unavailable, as well as regional testing at sites in England and Northern Ireland - all had run out by 10am.

Scotland currently remains the only nation in the UK to be able to offer testing to essential workers at regional sites on Saturday.

Key workers are currently unable to book tests online for regional centres in Wales, the DHSC confirmed. Although the country is listed as an option on the government website, it currently features a label stating "none available".

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The government's website shows only Scotland can offer testing for the rest of this morning
The government's website shows only Scotland can offer testing for the rest of this morning. Picture: Gov.UK

The government apologised for any inconvenience caused yesterday 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."

On Friday, a separate message on the website read: "Due to high demand we have allocated all of today’s coronavirus home testing kits and appointments at regional testing sites.

"More testing kits and appointment slots will become available at 8am tomorrow (Saturday)."

However, within 30 minutes the kits once again ran out on Saturday morning.

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.

It is not known how many kits were initially available both on Friday and Saturday.

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

He 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 five days away.

28,532 tests were carried out in the 24 hours to 9am on 24 April – just over 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.”