14 Sep 2020

UK government labs struggling to cope with backlog of almost 200,000 tests

Health and Social Care Editor

The coronavirus is spreading again across the UK but it’s getting harder to be tested – as government labs struggle to cope with a backlog of almost 200,000 tests.

All this at a time when scientists are warning that regular mass testing is crucial to avoid a second peak of the disease.

Downing Street has insisted it is “working hard” to increase testing capacity, while officials have also urged people to stick to the new rules restricting social gatherings which came into force today.

In England, up to six people from multiple households can meet up – that’s indoors or outdoors.

There are exclusions for people gathering in the workplace, for education, organised sport and events such as weddings and funerals.

In Scotland, up to six people from two households can meet, either indoors or outdoors. But this does not include children under 12.

In Wales, up to 30 people can gather outdoors. But indoors, the limit is six people from an ‘extended household’. Children under 11 are not included.

There’s no change in Northern Ireland, where up to 15 people can meet outdoors. And indoors up to six people can meet from two households.

And in various parts of the UK with higher rates of infection there are of course tighter restrictions.