In a bid to control the coronavirus health crisis, the British government opted to perform a costly mass testing programme. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it a "moonshot" plan wherein the target was set at 10 million tests in a day. Many were reportedly opposed to the idea and it seems they were in the right to do so as preliminary attempts have already encountered setbacks. As such, lawmakers in the United Kingdom have pointed out an apparently lack of a unified strategy against the pandemic.
Many pointed out the failure to account for the surge of new cases as health experts warned of a second wave of infections brought about by several factors. As such, the resources currently available were purportedly insufficient to handle the demand, which led to backlogs among several laboratories. This prevented people in areas identified as coronavirus hotspots from booking tests earlier this week.
In an attempt to appease his critics, Johnson purportedly pointed out that the U.K. has tested more people in contrast to other European countries, reports ABC News. Moreover, he likewise noted that the government is responding appropriately given the "colossal" rise in demand. However, lawmakers argue that at its current pace, the country is ill-equipped to handle what forecasts indicate might be an alarming increase of case in the winter months.
"A month ago they had spare capacity in testing – significant spare capacity – but I think what has been underestimated was the speed at which the second wave would arrive, but also the pressure put on the system from children returning to school, and the testing demands associated with that, and people increasingly out and about," said Oxford University regius professor of medicine Sir John Bell. "So, I think they are definitely behind the curve in terms of getting the necessary tests for what we need today."
The latest figures show that on Wednesday, there were 3,991 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections. Meanwhile, the previous day's record was around 3,015. Johnson announced that the government will prioritise testing care home staff and health workers. Once completed, the next batch of tests will focus on students and their families. Unfortunately, this prompted some officials to complain about this approach as the rest of the population demand to be tested as well.