'Keep trying' for tests in South Shields, public urged as South Tyneside sits at 'tipping point'

Families in South Tyneside struggling to access COVID-19 testing in the borough have been advised to keep checking for new slots to become available.

Thursday, 10th September 2020, 1:05 pm

But according to health chiefs, new appointments are released throughout the day, meaning those who ‘keep trying’ may be offered a more convenient option.

“I have been made aware of anecdotal reports of people struggling to get testing slots,” said Tom Hall, director of public health at South Tyneside Council.

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Issues over coronavirus testing have been raised in South Tyneside. Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Wire

“We’ve fed that back [to NHS Test and Trace] and sought assurance that slots at Temple Park and Little Haven are being prioritised for South Tyneside residents.

“That is the process and we’re advising people that if they can’t get a slot immediately to try going back through the portal again, because I understand testing slots are released at different points during the day to try and smooth out their availability.”

He added: “We’re working back with the Department of Health and Social Care to make sure people can get access to those tests.”

Hall was speaking at a meeting of the council’s ruling cabinet, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

Confirmed cases of coronavirus have surged in the borough in recent weeks, rising from one of the lowest infection rates in the North East to among the highest since August, prompting inclusion on the government’s watch list.

Hall also echoed official screening guidelines, urging only those ‘displaying symptoms of COVID-19’ book tests.

He added: “We need to reserve testing capacity for those displaying symptoms.”

Mr Hall had earlier said it was “almost certain” South Tyneside would remain on the Government’s Covid watch list after it reviewed the situation in the borough this week.

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