Stories of Islanders being advised the nearest location for a Coronavirus (Covid-19) test is somewhere on the mainland continue to emerge.
At last night’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee, the Isle of Wight’s Director of Public Health, Simon Bryant, told members the problem was due to a national issue with laboratory capacity and that the “system is not smart enough to manage the piece of water” between the Island and the mainland.
Mr Bryant explained
“The issue is national and with lab capacity – it’s increasing but not as fast as demand. There’s a delay in getting tested, it’s picking up, some people offered a test straight away due to availability of slots.
“Capacity has been capped and in some cases there’s a delay in results. It’s all speeding up, but we’re working with Department for Health and Social Care to see how we can increase capacity.”
Target times for testing
Cllr Michael Lilley asked what the “preferred target time or achievable target time” to get someone tested and the results back were.
“We must know how long it is taking?”
Mr Bryant said he didn’t know how long people are waiting for tests.
“The ideal is to get a test turned around in 24 hours, for some people it has been 48 hours. We are restricted by national, rather than local processes.”
Get tested in Lewisham
Chairperson of the Committee, Cllr Richard Hollis, explained that he’d be advised by the Test and Trace programme to travel to Lewisham to get a test.
“Are we getting any feedback that this situation is starting to be sorted out?”
Mr Bryant explained,
“A 75 mile cap was placed on the system but it’s not smart enough to be able to manage a piece of water, it doesn’t see it as anything different.
“We have done a lot of work with the ferries to discourage travel both ways because it is really not appropriate for people to travel with symptoms to the Island and from the Island for tests.”
“We’ve carried out a lot of work with the ferries to discourage travel in either direction.”
Do not cross the Solent
He reiterated that people should not travel across the Solent (in either direction) to have a test. You should keep trying for a test at the Newport Cricket Ground test centre, or order a home test.
He reminded members that only those with the specific Covid-19 symptoms should be asking for a test.
The main symptoms of coronavirus are:
- a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
Most people with Coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.