A professor advising the government on the coronavirus says the Second Wave has begun and it will get worse as we head into winter.
Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, who oversaw the government’s antibody testing program and advised ministers, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that a ‘second wave’ of Covid-19 had led to a increase in demand for tests. .
He said, “I think what’s going wrong is the second wave.
“A month ago they had spare capacity in testing – significant spare capacity – but I think what was underestimated was the speed at which the second wave would arrive, but also the pressure put on the system by children returning to school, and the testing requirements associated with it, and people are increasingly taking to the road.
“So I think they are definitely behind in getting the necessary tests for what we need today.”
Sir John said the testing capacity would increase significantly over the next two weeks.
“But this is going to get worse because of course we haven’t gotten to winter yet – we haven’t all started sniffing, getting a fever, catching a cold, and that will confuse the problem even more,” he said.
“Demand will increase. The real question is whether they can get the supply in a position where it can exceed demand, and that’s the challenge right now. “
His comments come after the government issued tough new rules this week to quell the rise in coronavirus cases.
And there is speculation that even tougher rules could be introduced – such as protections for 4.5 million people and a 9pm curfew.
The Welsh Minister of Health says the country can be locked again within weeks.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was “wrong to say” that no tests were available after being questioned about the long delays in booking a test in Bolton, where the contamination rate is highest in England.
On BBC Breakfast she said: “Tests are available, you’ve heard me say, especially in local lockdown areas, I’ve seen this myself, I’ve seen the teams that have been working on this.
“Mobile testing is carried out, capacity goes to local areas where lockdowns have been carried out and are taking place.
“I think it is wrong to say that tests are not available, new book-in slots are made available every day, mobile test units are made available.
“Plus, home test kits are being released across the country, but specifically in local closed off areas.”
The government is “increasing capacity” in local lockdown areas and tests are available within a 10-mile radius, Ms. Patel said.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, she said it was unacceptable that people should not be able to get tests, adding, “It is clear that much more work needs to be done with Public Health England and the actual public health authorities in those particular local areas.
“As a government, we are partnering with Public Health England to increase demand in local hotspot areas and we will continue to do so.”
Regarding access to testing, she said most tests are available within a 10-mile radius.
“It seems to me that there will be extreme cases where people will not be able to reach test sites within that radius, but that does not mean that Public Health England will not be working day and night to increase capacity,” she added.