Government won’t reveal how many Mainlanders are coming to Isle of Wight for Covid-19 testing

News OnTheWight has been seeking from Government the number of Mainlanders who have self-diagnosed with Covid-19 that are travelling on ferries to the Isle of Wight for testing. They won’t say. Red Funnel were more forthcoming

nsal swab in drive through test centre

We’ve been hearing from News OnTheWight readers that they know people are travelling from the Mainland, to the Isle of Wight, to be tested for Covid-19.

Readers will remember recent coverage that Londoners were being instructed by the Department for Health and Social Care to do so, as they didn’t have enough testing locally.

This clearly has the potential to raise concerns as getting to the Isle of Wight involves crossing the Solent on a ferry.

Researched claims
As ever, News OnTheWight didn’t just jump on this and rush out an irresponsible report that it has happened. We put the effort into researching, going through official channels, to find out from those directly involved what’s happening.

Having done that – in an attempt to clarify the situation – in the hope of putting Islanders’ mind at rest, what do we hear back?

“Those aren’t breakdowns of the data we provide,” Department of Health and Social Care told us.

Keeping Islanders in the dark
Many are likely to find it is beyond belief that the centre doing the Covid-19 testing are not recording the location of where tested people live.

Instead, the Government department have chosen to keep Islanders in the dark as to how many people are crossing the Solent to get tested here on the Island, be that zero or more.

The ferry companies
Red Funnel answered the questions from News OnTheWight about passengers travelling for Covid-19 testing. Hovertravel responded, without answering the questions and Wightlink failed to respond at all.

We’d asked whether they were aware of any passengers who have travelled to the Mainland and back for Covid-19 testing (and vice versa from the Mainland). If so, how many?

Hovertravel didn’t provide numbers, they simply replied,

“If you have any symptoms or are travelling to be tested for Covid-19, you must not travel with us”

Red Funnel: 11 requests for Covid-19 travellers
Whereas Red Funnel were more forthcoming. They told News OnTheWight,

“Since 14th September, we have had a total of 11 requests asking us to help arrange a ‘stay in vehicle’ exemption in order to facilitate travel for the purpose of attending a Covid-19 test, and returning from that test.

“We wish to take this opportunity to urgently remind all passengers that they should NEVER travel on our ferries and join the passenger decks if they have symptoms of Covid-19 or need to quarantine.

“Appreciating that ferry travel cannot be avoided between the Isle of Wight and mainland in some circumstances, we have a process in place to enable those who need to quarantine to make arrangements to remain inside their vehicle.

“For operations and safety reasons, passengers need to get in touch with us to make arrangements to stay isolated in their vehicles and they must do this in advance of travelling – ideally at least 48 hours before.”

Last week News OnTheWight has asked which direction these passengers were travelling and are awaiting an update.

Red Funnel: “Civic responsibility”
The spokesperson for Red Funnel also went on to say,

“We also wish to remind passengers that it is an individual, civic responsibility to refrain from knowingly putting the safety of others at risk.”

For more information, visit their Website.

The Island isn’t like other places in the UK
People getting tested don’t just do so on a whim. They get tested because they are feeling unwell enough to think that they have Covid-19.

These ill people are being instructed by the Government department to board a ferry and cross the Solent to get tested – then of course, get back on a ferry and make their way back to the Mainland to await their tests to find out if they actually have C19.

Despite this, they are not prepare to tell Islanders how many people are making these journeys on our ferries.

Image: navymedicine under CC BY 2.0

Tuesday, 22nd September, 2020 8:36am



Filed under: Health, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story

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14 Comments on "Government won’t reveal how many Mainlanders are coming to Isle of Wight for Covid-19 testing"

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The truth is they’ve lost control, and the government doesn’t really give a sh!t about spreading the infection otherwise they wouldn’t be send potentially infectious people all over the country.


There’s no need for people to come here from London as there are test centres in Basingstoke and Winchester. This Tory Government are a shambles and their handling of the epidemic is woeful. The only control they have is looking after themselves and the ruling class they represent.

Since the government only publish the number of people infected by the number of confirmed cases through tests, in order to keep people at work and the economy functioning it needs to keep the official infection rate figures as low as possible. It’s doing this by making it hard for people to get tested, asking them to travel ridiculous distances for a test. Boris Johnson and this… Read more »

What’s our MP and our council doing about this. We are being used and exploited again.


Bob’s already written a letter to Matt, and Dave agrees government action is needed and is working closely with Bob. Some people are never satisfied! It is clear they are right on the case!


Wow a letter when will that be read by Mr Hancock? Way too slow Bob you need to ‘thump the table’ this situation is endangering more lives and needs to be stopped immediately! As usual Dave’s sitting on Bob’s fence. When is this Government going to start using some common sense, sadly lacking throughout. You need to put your loyalty elsewhere royscott.

Hi Joss, my lame attempt at sarcasm that Bob and Dave have taken decisive action that will bring about change clearly was missed by you. If you have any doubt about my loyalty look at my comments about their other mate Ian and his assertion that only one person on the Island has any complaint about the St Mary’s ‘improvement’ on another news item. My daughter tried… Read more »

There’s people who talk a lot and do nothing and there’s people who do a lot. Action speaks louder than words royscott. Bob and Dave are wafflers.

Mark L Francis

How many Islanders aree going in the opposite direction?

Jenny Smart

I think the government still secretly believes in ‘hers immunity’ and wants to encourage infection, even though it would be political suicide to declare it.

Jenny Smart


Rhos yr Alarch

Does anyone else find it alarming that Hovertravel are only advising symptomatic people not to travel “with us” rather than saying they must not travel to the Island at all? Especially given the lack of any response from Wightlink, the largest travel provider…

Angela Hewitt

The current measures are just lip service

I am guessing that the software used to find test appointments uses a standard element which looks at postcodes within certain radii. The problem with that is that this element ignores the water in between. So it thinks, for example, that Portsmouth is say 5 miles from Ryde. Even Bournemouth would only come in at say 20 miles from Newport. People may have experienced this when checking… Read more »