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Millions of key workers face rush to secure a coronavirus test

Shiny ladles in a restaurant kitchenKey workers could be missing out on coronavirus tests because no checks are being made on who is entitled to claim for them.   

Some 5,000 home kits and 19,000 drive-through tests were expected to be made available on Saturday – with key workers asked to fill out an online application form as the government races to hit its 100,000-a-day testing target by next Thursday.

Many were trying to secure a test for the second time after the government’s new website had to close hours after launching on Friday as 46,000 people tried to access it. 

But within twenty minutes of the website launching this morning, home test kits were no longer available and applicants could only select a drive-through test. 

And within an hour drive-through tests in England had also completely booked up.

Ten million key workers and their households are now eligible for the tests.

But the government was yesterday  forced to admit that no checks will be made on whether those requesting coronavirus tests are genuinely essential workers. 

People line up in their cars at a drive through testing centre in the car park of Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey today

Home kits and regional tests were available on the government website on the government website at 8.10am today. But within twenty minutes of the website launching home testing kits were no longer available. And within an hour drive-through tests in England had also completely booked up 

One man who successfully applied for a drive-in test minutes after the scheme opened told the Guardian ‘any Tom, Dick or Harry’ can get a test. 

Number 10 said the Government is trusting that those applying for tests are key workers, with no eligibility checks in place for online bookings.

The official spokesman said: ‘As with many other aspects of the coronavirus response, we would expect the public to respond in good faith.

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‘That is what they have done with other aspects of the scheme, I think we’d expect it to be the same here.’

Despite tests booking up so quickly, Dr Simon Eccles, chief clinical information officer at NHS Digital, said the website had been ‘improved’ before it re-opened on Saturday – adding that an ‘amazing team’ had worked ‘all night’ on it.

Poundstretcher property manager Natalie Orton-Rose was turned away after she arrived at the drive-through centre

‘Home kits all booked by 8:15! I know it’s frustrating but we’re developing more lab, supply and logistics capacity every day,’ he said on Twitter. 

‘If we’d waited until we had the full 100k, to launch, no one would have had a test today. More home kits again tomorrow, even more next week.’ 

Asked whether the Government was confident people would be able to test themselves accurately with a kit sent to their homes, the spokesman added: ‘There are videos available to show people how to do this and people will be given clear instructions.’ 

Under the scheme, test results from the drive-through sites will be sent out by text within 48 hours, WP Staging Pro v2.9.9 NULLED and within 72 hours of collection of the home delivery tests.  

Frustrated key workers also struggled to secure one of the kits yesterday. Within two minutes of the website going live at 6am on Friday, all 5,000 tests for people to do at home had been booked. 

Meanwhile, more than 15,000 appointments for tests at drive-through centres were also taken quickly, forcing the Department of Health to apologise on Twitter ‘for any inconvenience’ and close applications. 

A medical worker sprays hand sanitiser on an essential worker at a drive-in testing facility for coronavirus, in east London today

Among those able to book a test on Friday was Poundstretcher property manager Natalie Orton-Rose, from Leicester.

But she revealed she was turned away after she arrived at the drive-through centre. 

She told the BBC: ‘I drove an hour from my home in Leicester [to the test centre in Nottingham] and sat waiting for half an hour in the queue only to be told actually they had no more tests left,’ she said.

‘I am absolutely disgusted. It is bad enough that my closest test centre is an hour away but then to waste my time and fuel.’

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps apologised after the new government website was closed due to ‘significant demand’. 

Mr Shapps yesterday told the daily Downing Street coronavirus press conference that reports the website had crashed were not accurate and it was ‘simply that the slots for today were taken up’.

He insisted the government is confident every key worker who needs a test will soon be able to access one as ministers strive to hit a 100,000 daily tests target by the end of April. 

‘We know what the capacity is, we don’t quite know how many people would want to be tested because many people working for the NHS for example will have already accessed those tests through their work places,’ he said. 

Traffic queueing to enter a temporary COVID-19 testing facility at IKEA in Wembley, north London

Key workers vented their frustration on Twitter about a lack of tests this morning (above and below)

Mr Shapps said things will soon ‘settle down’ after ‘46,000 people went to the portal first thing today’. 

‘There are some more slots opening up right now as I am speaking and there will be more slots tomorrow and in the days after,’ he added.

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