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‘I’m worried the system isn’t fit for purpose’ Fears over chaotic testing centre as patient is wrongly sent away

PUBLISHED: 15:51 22 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:24 22 April 2020

The new coronavirus drive through testing facility at the London Road Park and Ride car park near the Copdock Interchange in Ipswich that a patient was wrongly turned away from. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The new coronavirus drive through testing facility at the London Road Park and Ride car park near the Copdock Interchange in Ipswich that a patient was wrongly turned away from. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Concerns have been raised about the new drive through coronavirus testing centre at Copdock after a patient was wrongly denied a test.

A patient who had arranged to be tested at the Copdock testing centre for key workers was refused a test because they were not displaying symptoms despite having had a temperature just two days beforehand and having been in contact with a suspected case of Covid-19.

Under government guidelines anyone with a temperature above 37.8 degrees, or another coronavirus symptom, must self-isolate for seven days or until their temperature returns to normal and members of their household must self-isolate for 14 days. If a coronavirus test result comes back negative, the patient and their household no longer need to self-isolate.

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A family member of the patient, who is a key worker, said: “I was astounded when I heard they weren’t tested because they fitted the criteria.

“I’m worried that the system isn’t fit for purpose and that other people will be turned away.”

The national testing effort is being led by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) but their messaging on testing asymptomatic patients is confused.

On Monday a DHSC spokesman said: “At the moment we only know that these tests are effective in people who are symptomatic. The chief medical officer’s guidance is very clear that asymptomatic testing is not recommended as it is could result in false negatives and give incorrect reassurance to those tested and their families.”

Find all of our coronavirus coverage here.

This was contradicted a day later in the Downing Street press conference when both professor John Newton, the co-ordinator of the UK’s testing programme, and professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer confirmed that the test will detect the virus in people who are asymptomatic. Professor Newton said: “It’s obvious from the early studies that in settings where social distancing isn’t possible – particularly enclosed areas such as hospitals, care homes, or in prisons – there is a need to do extensive testing to try and understand how many people might be asymptomatic and carrying the virus.”

The DHSC has not responded to this newspaper’s request to clarify their position on testing asymptomatic patients.

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