Matt Hancock 'completely rejects' test and trace system is failing but people STILL unable to access website to book test this morning

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Matt Hancock said he “completely rejects” that the coronavirus test and trace system is “failing” while people were still unable to access the booking site this morning. The Health Secretary defended the system as “excellent” despite the growing criticism that people are unable to book tests. His comments came as people could not access the Government website to book a test this morning.

The system has, in the past few weeks, been inundated with issues, including people being directed to test centres more than 100 miles away from their homes.

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Labour leader Keir Starmer said the system was “on the verge of collapse”, adding the Government should have used the summer to get a “very effective” test-and-trace system running. Sarah-Jane Marsh, the director of testing at NHS Test and Trace, apologised to the public on Tuesday, saying the laboratory’s processing system is struggling to cope with the demand. But on Wednesday morning, Mr Hancock blamed the problems on people without symptoms requesting tests.

Questioned over whether the system was failing, he told Sky News: “I completely reject the accusation, in fact quite the contrary.” He said the UK has the biggest system per capita in Europe and the highest testing capacity “we’ve ever had”. “However in the last couple of weeks we’ve seen an increase in demand, including an increase in demand from people who are not eligible for tests, people who don’t have symptoms,” he added.


Coronavirus hits the UK – In pictures


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Electronic bilboards displays a message warning people to stay home in Sheffield

PA

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An image of The Queen eith quotes from her broadcast to the UK and the Commonwealth in relation to the Coronavirus epidemic are displayed on lights in London’s Piccadilly Circus PA

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Boris Johnson addresses the nation on the Coronavirus lockdown Andrew Parsons

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Military vehicles cross Westminster Bridge after members of the 101 Logistic Brigade delivered a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas’ hospital

Getty Images

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Durdle Door in Dorset Reuters

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Captain Tom Moore via Reuters

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Mia, aged 8, and Jack, aged 5, take part in “PE with Joe” a daily live workout with Joe Wicks on Youtube to help kids stay fit who have to stay indoors due to the Coronavirus outbreak

PA

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An NHS worker reacts at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital during the Clap for our Carers campaign in support of the NHS Reuters

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Goats which have taken over the deserted streets of Llandudno @AndrewStuart via PA

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Tobias Weller

PA

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Novikov restaurant in London with its shutters pulled down while the restaurant is closed

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London Landscapes: Hyde Park and the Serpentine, central London. Matt Writtle

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A newspaper vendor in Manchester city centre giving away free toilet rolls with every paper bought as shops run low on supplies due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus PA

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Theo Clay looks out of his window next to his hand-drawn picture of a rainbow in Liverpool, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue

Reuters

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A young man cuts another man’s hair on top of a closed hairdresser in Oxford Reuters

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General view of the new NHS Nightingale Hospital, built to fight against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London via Reuters

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Jason Baird is seen dressed as Spiderman during his daily exercise to cheer up local children in Stockport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues

Reuters

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A woman wearing a face mask walks past Buckingham Palace Getty Images

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A man holds mobile phone displaying a text message alert sent by the government warning that new rules are in force across the UK and people must stay at home PA

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Medical staff on the Covid-19 ward at the Neath Port Talbot Hospital, in Wales, as the health services continue their response to the coronavirus outbreak.

PA

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking part in a virtual Cabinet meeting with his top team of ministers PA

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A shopper walks past empty shelves in a Lidl store on in Wallington. After spates of “panic buying” cleared supermarket shelves of items like toilet paper and cleaning products, stores across the UK have introduced limits on purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some have also created special time slots for the elderly and other shoppers vulnerable to the new coronavirus. Getty Images

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People on a busy tube train in London at rush hour PA

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Mia, aged 8 and her brother Jack, aged 5 from Essex, continue their school work at home, after being sent home due to the coronavirus

PA

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Children are painting ‘Chase the rainbows’ artwork and springing up in windows across the country Reuters

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Social distancing in Primrose Hill Jeremy Selwyn

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Westminster Bridge is deserted

PA

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A general view of a locked gate at Anfield, Liverpool as The Premier League has been suspended PA

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An empty escalator at Charing Coss London Underground tube station Jeremy Selwyn

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Homeless people in London

AFP via Getty Images

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A piece of art by the artist, known as the Rebel Bear has appeared on a wall on Bank Street in Glasgow. The new addition to Glasgow’s street art is capturing the global Coronavirus crisis. The piece features a woman and a man pulling back to give each other a kiss

PA

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The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace, London, for Windsor Castle to socially distance herself amid the coronavirus pandemic PA

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A general view on Grey street, Newcastle as coronavirus cases grow around the world Reuters

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Matt Raw, a British national who returned from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China, leaves quaratine at Arrowe Park Hospital on Merseyside

PA

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Britain’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty (L) and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance look on as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news conference inside 10 Downing Street Reuters

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The ticket-validation terminals at the tram stop on Edinburgh’s Princes Street are cleaned following the coronavirus outbreak. PA

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Locked school gates at Rockcliffe First School in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear

PA

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A sign at a Sainsbury’s supermarket informs customers that limits have been set on a small number of products as the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases grow around the world Reuters

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Jawad Javed delivers coronavirus protection kits that he and his wife have put together to the vulnerable people of their community of Stenhousemuir, between Glasgow and Edinburgh AFP via Getty Images

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A sign advertising a book titled “How Will We Survive On Earth?”

Getty Images

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A man who appears to be homeless sleeping wearing a mask today in Victoria Jeremy Selwyn

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A pedestrian walks past graffiti that reads “Diseases are in the City” in Edinburgh AFP via Getty Images

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Staff from The Lyric Theatre, London inform patrons, as it shuts its doors

PA

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A quiet looking George IV Bridge in Edinburgh PA

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A quieter than usual British Museum Getty Images

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A racegoer attends Cheltenham in a fashionable face mask

SplashNews.com

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A commuter wears a face mask at London Bridge Station Jeremy Selwyn

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A empty restaurant in the Bull Ring Shopping Centre Getty Images

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A deserted Trafalgar Square in London

PA

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Passengers determined to avoid the coronavirus before leaving the UK arrive at Gatwick Airport Getty Images

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Electronic bilboards displays a message warning people to stay home in Sheffield PA

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An image of The Queen eith quotes from her broadcast to the UK and the Commonwealth in relation to the Coronavirus epidemic are displayed on lights in London’s Piccadilly Circus

PA

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Boris Johnson addresses the nation on the Coronavirus lockdown Andrew Parsons

4/50

Military vehicles cross Westminster Bridge after members of the 101 Logistic Brigade delivered a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas’ hospital Getty Images

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Durdle Door in Dorset

Reuters

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Captain Tom Moore via Reuters

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Mia, aged 8, and Jack, aged 5, take part in “PE with Joe” a daily live workout with Joe Wicks on Youtube to help kids stay fit who have to stay indoors due to the Coronavirus outbreak PA

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An NHS worker reacts at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital during the Clap for our Carers campaign in support of the NHS

Reuters

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Goats which have taken over the deserted streets of Llandudno @AndrewStuart via PA

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Tobias Weller PA

11/50

Novikov restaurant in London with its shutters pulled down while the restaurant is closed

12/50

London Landscapes: Hyde Park and the Serpentine, central London.

Matt Writtle

13/50

A newspaper vendor in Manchester city centre giving away free toilet rolls with every paper bought as shops run low on supplies due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus PA

14/50

Theo Clay looks out of his window next to his hand-drawn picture of a rainbow in Liverpool, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue Reuters

15/50

A young man cuts another man’s hair on top of a closed hairdresser in Oxford

Reuters

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General view of the new NHS Nightingale Hospital, built to fight against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London via Reuters

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Jason Baird is seen dressed as Spiderman during his daily exercise to cheer up local children in Stockport, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues Reuters

18/50

A woman wearing a face mask walks past Buckingham Palace

Getty Images

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A man holds mobile phone displaying a text message alert sent by the government warning that new rules are in force across the UK and people must stay at home PA

20/50

Medical staff on the Covid-19 ward at the Neath Port Talbot Hospital, in Wales, as the health services continue their response to the coronavirus outbreak. PA

21/50

Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking part in a virtual Cabinet meeting with his top team of ministers

PA

22/50

A shopper walks past empty shelves in a Lidl store on in Wallington. After spates of “panic buying” cleared supermarket shelves of items like toilet paper and cleaning products, stores across the UK have introduced limits on purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have also created special time slots for the elderly and other shoppers vulnerable to the new coronavirus.

Getty Images

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People on a busy tube train in London at rush hour PA

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Mia, aged 8 and her brother Jack, aged 5 from Essex, continue their school work at home, after being sent home due to the coronavirus PA

25/50

Children are painting ‘Chase the rainbows’ artwork and springing up in windows across the country

Reuters

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Social distancing in Primrose Hill Jeremy Selwyn

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Westminster Bridge is deserted PA

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A general view of a locked gate at Anfield, Liverpool as The Premier League has been suspended

PA

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An empty escalator at Charing Coss London Underground tube station Jeremy Selwyn

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Homeless people in London AFP via Getty Images

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A piece of art by the artist, known as the Rebel Bear has appeared on a wall on Bank Street in Glasgow.

The new addition to Glasgow’s street art is capturing the global Coronavirus crisis. The piece features a woman and a man pulling back to give each other a kiss PA

32/50

The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace, London, for Windsor Castle to socially distance herself amid the coronavirus pandemic

PA

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A general view on Grey street, Newcastle as coronavirus cases grow around the world Reuters

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Matt Raw, a British national who returned from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan in China, leaves quaratine at Arrowe Park Hospital on Merseyside PA

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Britain’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty (L) and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance look on as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news conference inside 10 Downing Street

Reuters

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The ticket-validation terminals at the tram stop on Edinburgh’s Princes Street are cleaned following the coronavirus outbreak. PA

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Locked school gates at Rockcliffe First School in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear PA

38/50

A sign at a Sainsbury’s supermarket informs customers that limits have been set on a small number of products as the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases grow around the world

Reuters

39/50

Jawad Javed delivers coronavirus protection kits that he and his wife have put together to the vulnerable people of their community of Stenhousemuir, between Glasgow and Edinburgh AFP via Getty Images

40/50

A sign advertising a book titled “How Will We Survive On Earth?” Getty Images

41/50

A man who appears to be homeless sleeping wearing a mask today in Victoria

Jeremy Selwyn

42/50

A pedestrian walks past graffiti that reads “Diseases are in the City” in Edinburgh AFP via Getty Images

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Staff from The Lyric Theatre, London inform patrons, as it shuts its doors PA

44/50

A quiet looking George IV Bridge in Edinburgh

PA

45/50

A quieter than usual British Museum Getty Images

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A racegoer attends Cheltenham in a fashionable face mask SplashNews.com

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A commuter wears a face mask at London Bridge Station

Jeremy Selwyn

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A empty restaurant in the Bull Ring Shopping Centre Getty Images

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A deserted Trafalgar Square in London PA

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Passengers determined to avoid the coronavirus before leaving the UK arrive at Gatwick Airport

Getty Images

“We’ve seen an increase of about 25 per cent of people who are coming forward that don’t have symptoms and aren’t eligible.” The Health Secretary said that a school getting all of its pupils tested is “not appropriate”. He also said the Government was moving to “simplify” the rules around social gatherings by limiting groups to six either indoors or outdoors.

And Mr Hancock told the broadcaster that the pause to the Oxford vaccine trial was not necessarily a setback and that it has already overcome one such delay.

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He told Sky News: “It is obviously a challenge to this particular vaccine. “It’s not actually the first time it has happened to the Oxford vaccine and it’s a standard process in clinical trials.” Asked if it was a setback, Mr Hancock said: “Not necessarily, it depends on what they find when they do the investigation.

“There was a pause earlier in the summer and that was resolved without a problem.”

Test and Trace ‘on verge of collapse’, Keir Starmer warns

Regarding social distancing rules, Mr Hancock told Times Radio: “It will be much easier for the police to enforce because the previous rules where you had two households it was much harder to work out what was and wasn’t OK.” Fines for those who breach the rules will range from GBP100 to GBP3,200, the Health Secretary said, although there will be exceptions for events such as weddings, funerals and Christenings. “We have got to bring in clear, stricter rules this autumn unfortunately to stop the spread of the virus,” he said.

“One of the things we heard back including from the police directly was that we needed a simpler set of rules that are very straightforward, (that) everybody can understand, and we will be publishing those rules very clearly and then enforcing against them.”

More about: | Matt Hancock | Coronavirus | covid-19 | test and trace

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