Frustrated residents say they are being asked to travel ‘miles’ to get tested for coronavirus following a national shortage on tests.
Bracknell Forest Council says it understands the ‘frustrations’ of people who are struggling to get local COVID-19 tests.
As such, they are urging residents to only get tested if they have coronavirus symptoms or have been officially advised they need to get tested.
Cllr Marc Brunel-Walker, chairman of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board, said: “We completely understand the frustrations of residents who have symptoms but are unable to access local tests. The testing shortage is a national issue that is impacting us here in Bracknell Forest, with some residents being advised to travel miles for a test.
“If you do not have symptoms please do not apply for a test, this will help to reduce the demand. If you do have symptoms and can’t get one locally, please do try again in a couple of hours as more local slots may have opened up in that time.
“Understandably, some people may wish to be tested ‘just in case’ but if you aren’t symptomatic or haven’t been asked to test by an official organisation like the NHS or council, please do not apply for a test.”
The council said demand for testing is increasing and priority is being given to areas where there are more Covid-19 cases.
Bracknell Forest has lower cases of coronavirus so it isn’t on the priority for testing.
In a bid to help reduce demand, the council is asking that only people with Covid-19 symptoms, or those who have been advised by an official organisation, like the NHS or a local authority, apply for a test.
What are the symptoms?
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
There is a national shortage of laboratory capacity to analyse tests, with demand currently outstripping supply, which has meant that some local residents have not been able to access tests locally.
Meradin Peachey, acting deputy director of Public Health Berkshire, said: “We understand that there are national constraints in the processing of test results which is limiting the availability of tests locally. The testing system is prioritising areas of the country where there are higher levels of COVID-19 infections. Berkshire has lower case numbers than elsewhere in the country and in the last week over 97 per cent of tests on Berkshire residents were negative.”
A Covid-19 mobile testing unit will be available in Bracknell on Friday, 11 and Saturday, 12 September between the hours of 10.30am and 3.30pm for pre-booked tests only
Appointments can be booked 24 hours in advance. Residents should only book a test if you have symptoms. If you do not have symptoms, please leave available slots for those who need them.
People identified as a close contact should not use testing as a way of breaking the self-isolation period. If you have had a negative test, you should still isolate for the whole period due to the virus’ incubation period.
The Covid-19 testing centre at Montem, Slough is no longer accepting drop ins and only people with an appointment will be given a test.