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THE government’s “world-beating” Covid-19 test-and-trace system has descended into further chaos with families being told they must travel hundreds of miles to be tested.
In England’s north-east, where new lockdown regulations took effect at the weekend, people applying for tests were directed to Barnsley in South Yorkshire and Dumfries in Scotland.
One couple in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, were told to go to Bolton in Lancashire, the worst-affected town in Britain for new infections. Peter and Gill Hirst had developed respiratory illnesses.
Mr Hirst said today: “Gill was trying for the elusive Covid test the last couple of nights with no success — except we could visit Bolton for a drive-through test.
"Bolton: the town with the highest rate of infection in the country. Oh yes! Let’s go there!”
The north-eastern family asked to make a 200-mile round trip to Scotland from Burnhope in County Durham were Karen Reynoldson, her partner David Smith and their daughters, aged eight and four.
They asked for tests after their eldest daughter developed symptoms — and were directed to Moffat in Dumfries & Galloway for tests.
Ms Reynoldson said: “We must have passed loads of testing stations on the way up there, and I can imagine there were lots of people travelling in the opposite direction to us for tests down here.”
Ian Lavery, Labour MP for Wansbeck in Northumbria, said: “It’s no flaming wonder the entire north is having additional restrictions imposed on it.
“Only between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of those seeking a test got one. Many of those who did were then forced to take journeys of hundreds of miles to get their children tested.
“All the while, every single one of the children attending Eton were tested, symptomatic or not.
“If it’s good enough for the rich and powerful, it’s good enough for people here in Wansbeck.”
On May 27 Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that a “world-beating” Covid test-and-trace system would begin the next day.
Infections have now risen to more than 4,000 a day.
More new localised restrictions will be imposed from tomorrow in the Midlands and West Yorkshire.
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