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200903 | Government withdraws Covid-19 testing capacity from Cornwall

Government withdraws Covid-19 testing capacity from Cornwall in bid to fight the Coronavirus elsewhere

Posted By Anne North on 4th September 2020

By Anne North

The government is withdrawing Covid-19 testing capacity from Cornwall and is devoting it to parts of the country where the disease is more prevalent. Cornwall Council bosses have written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to protest.

County Hall has said it wants to “reassure residents that we are taking action to cover temporary issues experienced with the national Covid-19 testing service, as demands for testing have increased.”

Local public health and National Health Service officials are still providing up to 5,000 tests per week in Cornwall.

But at the heart of the dispute with Whitehall is the lack of local laboratory capacity for analysing test results. Cornwall is not seen as a priority, as the government tries to bolster the fight against serious outbreaks in the Midlands and the North West.

“Please only get a test if you have symptoms, save the tests available for those who really need them,” said Public Health Cornwall. Cornwall Council is now working with Devon County Council in a bid to develop a plan to provide emergency cover.

Cornwall Council leader Julian German said: “Our letter to the Secretary of State spells out that the key to keeping our residents and visitors safe is to advise people with Covid-19 symptoms to get tested, and stay at home or safely travel back from holiday.

 

 

“Testing is an essential part of the Test and Trace, contact tracing approach. Without access to testing it is hard for us to see any emerging clusters and increase in cases. In the absence of consistent access to testing, our Outbreak Management approach in Cornwall is undermined."

“Cornwall Council’s Director of Public Health, Rachel Wigglesworth, added: “Whilst we acknowledge that access to testing in areas of outbreaks, and high Covid-19 prevalence should be prioritised, the public health purpose of testing should be paramount. All areas should have access to symptomatic testing.”

In addition to putting in place emergency cover measures the council is calling on the government to fix its issues with the national testing service.