Birmingham news Mayor defends under fire Covid test and trace service as crisis mounts MetiNews.Com
MetiNews.Com - The number of tests completed in the West Midlands has gone up dramatically in the past week, says mayor Andy Street
Breaking News ! More than 31,000 tests for coronavirus were carried out in the West Midlands in the past week - up 60% on the week before, Mayor Andy Street has revealed. He spoke out to highlight the 'dramatic rise' in the number of tests carried out, while also pledging to press for more testing centres in hotspot areas and support plans for extra lab space across the region. The mayor revealed that in the first week of September a total of 19,900 tests were carried out in the West Midlands. This rose to 31,300 in the second week - illustrating the mammoth effort under way to keep up with demand. He revealed the figures, he said, to try to counteract suggestions that testing had ground to a halt. Read More Related Articles Zero tests and lockdown fears - 48hrs of new restrictions exposes critical flaws in Covid plan Read More Related Articles Local lockdown: Urgent plea for rule change so relatives can provide child care at home "I know it is very very frustrating and we have to build extra capacity in the lab testing, but despite all the heat and light over this, the hard numbers show the number of tests completed in the West Midlands has gone up dramatically. "There has definitely been a big step up. There has been a dramatic increase in tests delivered by the (Test and Trace) service here. "It has gone up from the first week to the second week of September by 60%," he said. There were now more than 5,000 tests a day being done (averaged out over the seven days to September 16), compared to fewer than 3,000 tests a day in the week up to September 6. But he said he recognised that whatever the number, it was not keeping pace with demand. He is now in talks with Sarah-Jane Marsh, Director of Testing for the NHS Test and Trace operation, and health ministers to press for more testing sites and more lab capacity for the region - quickly. "I totally agree that testing options need to increase," he said, and added he was backing Birmingham City Council's work to provide more testing sites in neighbourhoods. Get all the latest politics updates in our daily BirminghamLive newsletter Politics plays a huge part in all our lives, much more than we immediately realise. News and updates on the world of politics seemed to become much more important than ever during the coronavirus pandemic as we waited for news of the Government's responses to the crisis and how it affected our daily lives. You can get all the latest politics updates in our BirminghamLive daily newsletter. Sign up here or fill in the box at the top of the article. There are all the Government briefings and announcements as well as new laws, decisions on the economy that affect businesses and our personal finances, policies on benefits such as Universal Credit and of course local and national elections that decide who represents us. There's also all the news from Birmingham City Council and other Midlands authorities on housing, education, bin collections, roads, transport, public health and so much more. And how much council tax they'll charge us for delivering those services. We also have a free app which you can download.
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The key problem was around lab capacity - "what we have is not enough," he said. But in the meantime it was vital that tests are prioritised. "The problem is that while we have this insufficient quantity of testing it does have to be prioritised (to those with symptoms). An unfortunate consequence is that people may have to isolate longer than is necessary." University labs - likely to include the University of Birmingham's world class set up - and hospitals are widely predicted to be asked to step up to plug the gap.
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Why is there a crisis in testing? Test and Trace was meant to be one of the vital tools in our armoury as we battled out of full lockdown, blinking nervously, into the summer sun. It would provide the braces to the belt of social distancing, sparkling hygiene, hand sanitisers and face masks as we returned to a semblance of normality. New restrictions would help contain the virus, as local infection rates headed up, and test and trace would root out contact clusters before they became full outbreaks.
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We were being actively encouraged to get tested at the first sign of a symptom or if we feared we had been in contact with someone with symptoms - indeed, it was presented as our civic responsibility to do so. But problems with testing have ramped up in the past fortnight.
Public queue at a coronavirus testing facility in Sutton Coldfield
We have reported regularly on people blocked from getting coronavirus tests, as appointments were paused whenever the system struggled to cope. Yet the government says capacity is higher than ever. Demand for tests has indeed soared - but it is unclear by how much. However, a combination of people returning from holiday and children going back to school has put pressure on the system. At the same time, respiratory viruses commonly rise at this time of year, particularly among youngsters. The Government appears to have failed to prepare sufficiently for this double whammy. Birmingham professor Alan McNally, who was involved in setting up the first Lighthouse superlab to test for coronavirus and is director of Birmingham University's world-class microbiology and infection institute, is troubled. "There is a perfect storm of events that have come together to crash the system," he said. "But this could have been foretold. There has been no testing regime in place to support schools going back, or to support workers going back."
Source = MetiNews.Com