Health secretary blames British public for shortfall in coronavirus testing capacity
- Credit: Archant
Matt Hancock has blamed the British public for a recent dearth of available coronavirus tests saying that people not showing symptoms were wrongfully getting tested.
The health secretary insisted the government Test and Trace system was 'excellent' despite reports of people being asked to travel up to 650 miles for a swab.
Appearing on Sky News, Hancock said: 'In the last couple of weeks we've seen an increase in demand, including an increase in demand from people who are not eligible for tests, people who don't have symptoms.
'We've seen an increase of about 25% of people who are coming forward that don't have symptoms and aren't eligible.'
You may also want to watch:
On Tuesday, a NHS Test and Trace director admitted the system was suffering from a 'critical pinch point'.
- 1 The Prime Minister is out of his league
- 2 The cannabis conundrum
- 3 Empty shelves are partly down to Brexit - but Leavers won't admit it
- 4 Why Germany's Greens failed to rise on floods
- 5 Party politics will not save us from the Tories - we need drastic action
- 6 Has something shifted in sado-populist Britain?
- 7 Boris Johnson: The sado-populist prime minister
- 8 Priti Patel - the poster girl for our poisonous politics
- 9 Cost of Brexit is already 38 times more than the money set aside for levelling up
- 10 Would Javid have renamed ICU wards 'Drama Queen Zones'?
Sarah-Jane Marsh, director of testing for NHS Test and Trace, insisted all testing sites had capacity but that labs which process the results were struggling to keep up with demand.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast, Hancock said: 'I've even heard stories of people saying 'I'm going on holiday next week, therefore I'm going to go and get a test'.
'No. That is not what the testing system is there for.
'The testing system is there to control this epidemic and we've got to be firmer I'm afraid with the rules around eligibility for testing.
'We were able to be quite relaxed about that.'
Speaking to Times Radio, he added: 'We're going to be clearer and stricter about the eligibility requirements for getting a test.'
Hancock did not immediately spell out how.
Questioned over whether the system was failing, he told Sky News: 'I completely reject the accusation, in fact quite the contrary.'
He said the UK has the biggest system per capita in Europe and the highest testing capacity 'we've ever had'.
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.