7 months later into the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK and after a decline of the R rate during the summer, it is on the rise again.
We were being enticed to ‘eat out to help out’ during August, now schools are back and workers are being encouraged back to the office.
Just when we were moving forward with ‘baby steps’ we now have to retrace our steps. Currently, the lawful limit on gatherings in England is 30 people. The number of people that can attend social gatherings will be slashed to six in England from Monday following a rise in coronavirus cases across the UK.
Vaccine trials are underway and test, track and trace was designed to keep on top of the virus in the meantime – but is it actually effective?
Matt Hancock said there had been an increase in people seeking tests when they have not got symptoms of Covid-19.
One school sent a whole year group for tests, which is “not appropriate”, he added.
Mr Hancock also described how some people who were going on holiday had sought to get tests, which is “not what the testing system is here for”.
People seeking unnecessary tests meant that it was harder for those who needed them to be tested, he added.
Many people who tried to access a test on Wednesday morning were met with the error message: “This service is currently very busy. More tests should be available later. If you cannot book a test now, or the location or time are not convenient, try again in a few hours. Warning: Do not call the helplines – you will not be able to get a test this way.”
The free tests are available to people with symptoms of coronavirus – a fever, new and continuous cough or a loss or change in sense of taste or smell – and for some others such as those who have been instructed to do so by a doctor or local council and some essential workers.
When asked whether the test system is failing, Mr Hancock told Sky News: “I completely reject that accusation. In fact, quite the contrary. Firstly, we have the biggest testing system per head of population of all the major countries in Europe and we built it essentially from scratch.
“Right now, we have the highest capacity for testing that we’ve ever had – increased compared to last week.”
“And that testing means that we can find these cases, and therefore help keep the virus under control with the contact tracing system as well.”
“However, in the last couple of weeks we have seen an increase in demand, including an increase in demand for people who are not eligible for tests, and people who don’t have symptoms.”
What are your views? Have you had experience with the testing system? Do you have confidence in the test, track and trace strategy? Are you aware of people not following the guidelines and getting unnecessary tests? Is the system at fault or the people accessing it?