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How difficult is it to book a coronavirus test?

PUBLISHED: 15:08 15 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:03 16 September 2020

We tried to book a Covid-19 test online and this is what happened.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

We tried to book a Covid-19 test online and this is what happened. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Suffolk families have been told to travel hundreds of miles for Covid testing or that there aren’t any available at all – this is what happened when we tried to see if it was possible to book one.

It has been reported that getting a test booked is increasingly difficult and even when you get one, it can be hundreds of miles away. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNIt has been reported that getting a test booked is increasingly difficult and even when you get one, it can be hundreds of miles away. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Some people living in the county have applied for tests, only to be told their nearest available is in South Wales, Dundee, Nottingham, Bradford, Inverness and Rochdale.

Parents have also reported difficulties in getting tests booked for their children who have shown symptoms following their return to school.

We decided to try for ourselves and see whether it was possible to book a test - and how far we might have to go if we did.

MORE: People sent hundreds of miles from Suffolk for Covid test as ‘high-risk’ areas made priority

How do you apply?

Applying for a test is easy – as long as the website isn’t too busy, in which case it won’t even let you in – you just head to the ‘get a free coronavirus test’ page.

The page reminds you of the Covid-19 symptoms and why you might need to get a test - for example, if you live or work in an area where there is an outbreak, even if you don’t have symptoms.

You’re advised that if you’ve had the symptoms for under four days, then you can order a home test kit or go to a testing site.

If it’s been five days since your symptoms began then you’ll need to book at a test site as it’s too late for a home testing kit.

From day six onwards of symptoms, it is too late for the antigen test.

What do you have to do?

First, you have to choose whether you want a drive-through site test, a home testing kit or a walk-through site test.

When we tried to apply for a test, there were only drive-through tests available.

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The next page takes you through what you need to know about the test, such as the fact you’ll need to stay in your car at all times and sit next to a window which opens for the drive-through sites.

The form also requires personal information such as names, contact details and vehicle registrations.

MORE: Health officials ‘aware’ of issues with booking Covid-19 tests, despite government improvements

You’re then taken through a series of questions to determine how long you’ve had symptoms, if you’ve been going to work during the time you’ve had symptoms and if anyone else in your home is getting a test.

You’ll need to answer what your profession is and which country in the UK you live in.

It also asks for data such as ethnicity and age, to help understand how Covid affects people differently.

What happens next?

After filling out the information, you enter your postcode to find a test site where you can get booked in.

After entering all the information, failing and trying again an hour later, the same message flashed up when we tried to see if it was possible: “We are currently experiencing a very high demand for test site appointments.

“It may take up to a minute to show test sites near you.

“If a list is not presented, please click the ‘Find a test site’ button again.”

On the first round, we tried selecting different options such as switching between walk and drive-through sites. However, this did not work.

Trying again using different postcodes within Suffolk and Ipswich also failed.

Overall, we were unsuccessful in booking a Covid-19 test within Suffolk - or anywhere else in the country for that matter.

MORE: Frustration as Suffolk schools are hit by coronavirus testing ‘shambles’


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