FEARS have today emerged that coronavirus tests for key workers could be hijacked in a free-for-all as the government can't check the eligibility of patients.

Seven million of England's key workers and their families were this week told they can now be tested for the virus tests by booking DIY home or drive-through tests.

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But there are no eligibility checks in place for people to book a test – meaning there is no way to make sure slots are being taken by keyworkers who need them.

And the tests – which should only be used by essential workers showing coronavirus symptoms – today booked out in just an hour.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman told The Telegraph: "As with many other aspects of the coronavirus response, we would expect the public to respond in good faith.

"That is what they have done with other aspects of the scheme – I think we'd expect it to be the same here."

And they added: "The public's response so far on coronavirus has been excellent. Obviously, we would expect it to be the same when it comes to testing."

Labour's shadow health and social care secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "We urgently need to be reassured that health workers and care workers who really need these tests are not being pushed to the back of the queue."

The website had last night been closed after "exceptional demand" with the slots again booked out this morning.

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted the site had not crashed last night.

He told the Downing Street: "It looks like the trajectory to 100,000 tests by the end of April is going to be met in terms of capacity.

"I would say, after today, the demand is there, so if those two things come together we will have it being met."

Where are the drive through test centres?

There are now 29 Regional Test Sites set up by the Department of Health and Social Care:

  1. Aberdeen
  2. Belfast
  3. Birmingham (Midland Metropolitan)
  4. Brighton
  5. Bristol
  6. Cardiff
  7. Chessington
  8. Doncaster
  9. Edgbaston
  10. Edinburgh
  11. Gateshead
  12. Gatwick
  13. Glasgow
  14. Greenwich
  15. Ipswich
  16. Leeds
  17. Liverpool
  18. Londonderry
  19. Manchester
  20. Milton Keynes
  21. NHS Nightingale London
  22. Nottingham
  23. Plymouth
  24. Portsmouth
  25. Preston
  26. Stansted
  27. Twickenham
  28. Wembley
  29. Worcester. 

The Department of Health and Social Care are currently supporting 13 NHS trusts with satellite test sites for their staff (located in: Bexhill; Bognor Regis; Bradford; Chester; Coventry; Crewe; Huddersfield; Kendal; Lincolnshire; Liverpool; Manchester; Sandwell and Wakefield).

About 16,000 tests have already been booked through the website.

The Government is hoping the number of home testing kits will increase to 18,000 by next week.

Criticism has been levelled over a series of test shambles in the UK – as drive-through sites for NHS tests were pictured looking empty and some results were found to be inaccurate.

Frustrated people trying to get hold of tests complained the process was complicated and they couldn't find a category for their job role.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock had claimed it was as easy as "booking a flight" but many said they got error messages as the website struggled to cope.

He had announced on Thursday that seven million of England's key workers and their families could get coronavirus tests.

The radical new plans mean that essential workers including teachers, bankers or supermarket workers were invited for testing.

For Brits without a car, home testing kits, including swabs and instructions, were made available to order online.

Those who were first to get their hands on one will have them delivered by Amazon within the next 24 hours before being collected by the Royal Mail the next day – with results promises within 72 hours of collection.

At least 10 million people are thought to qualify for the tests now, No10 think, and thousands will be able to go back to work if theirs comes back negative.

Professor John Newton said that the Government's target to test 100,000 people a day by the end of the month was still on track, despite just 20,000 taking place yesterday.

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There are now dozens of drive through testing sites available across the country, but workers have told how they have to drive hours to get there.

There are plans to set up around 50 testing centres like this in the coming weeks. Those who can't get there will be able to access mobile testing units, or get them sent to their doors.

The five ways key workers and their families can get a test are:

  1. Testing in NHS hospitals
  2. Regional test centres in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  3. Satellite centres
  4. Be sent a home test kit
  5. Mobile testing units which travel around the country.

The UK coronavirus death toll yesterday hit more than 19,500 with more than 140,000 cases.

The number of deaths of frontline workers has continued to grow, with fears the number is at least above 60.

But WHO today warned there was no guarantee patients who had recovered from the virus would be immune from catching it again.


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