The move has affected people in Lincolnshire, which has seen low infection rates, unable to get in at the Lincolnshire Showground and asked to travel to Newark, Nottingham or Sheffield. There have even been instances of people being asked to travel as far as Blackburn.
Prior to the move, 7,000 tests a week were being carried out across the county with 39 positives confirmed in health bosses’ last seven-day figures.
Lincolnshire County Council’s director of public health Tony McGinty explained that people could now only book the evening before, and that the morning slots are not being reopened if they were initially filled.
He urged people not to give up on getting a test as health bosses fear cases could slip through the net.
“The biggest worry for us from a local public health team point of view is that people either won’t be able to get a test because they just don’t have transport and they’ve got no mechanism to for doing that, or they just try once or twice, can’t get results and give up.
“That will then mean that there may be people who have become infected, and they’ve got symptoms and they are actually carrying Covid virus or they have been in contact with someone who tested positive but we will never find out.”
He said the impact of the move was almost immediate.
“The restrictions on capacity did seem to kick in very quickly for us, and when I’ve had conversations with other low-impact areas they’ve had the same experience.
“Everywhere in the country that doesn’t have a significant problem at the moment felt a squeeze quite quickly.”
He recognised transport was a big issue.
“There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a problem for people in Lincolnshire because we are at the best of times quite a long way away from other service centres.
“If you’re feeling unwell or you’re worried because you’ve been asked to test by NHS test and trace, then that extra anxiety of having to find somewhere distant, organise transport, find your way there and be on time for an appointment is just an added stress that I’m sure people can can do without.”
However, he said government was confident it would only be a short-term problem and that capacity would return in a couple of weeks.
“That should start to ease the situation again, however, it still leaves people with a problem in the next couple of weeks,” he acknowledged.