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Shortage of virus tests in UK hurts effort to fight 2nd wave

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Shortage of virus tests in UK hurts effort to fight 2nd wave

LONDON — Hospitals in England say a shortage of COVID-19 tests in the U.K. is jeopardizing medical staffing and preparations for a potential surge in coronavirus cases this winter.

Inadequate testing is leading to increased absences in the National Health Service as medical workers are forced to self-isolate while they and their family members wait for test results after possible exposures, according to NHS Providers, a group that represents hospitals. Last weekend hospital leaders in three different cities raised concerns about testing, said Chris Hopson, the group’s CEO. People talk to staff at the entrance of a coronavirus testing facility in Sutton Coldfield, England, on Tuesday. The testing shortage has forced the government to impose new limits on public gatherings. Jacob King/PA via AP

“The problem is that NHS trusts are working in the dark – they don’t know why these shortages are occurring, how long they are likely to last, how geographically widespread they are likely to be and what priority will be given to healthcare workers and their families in accessing scarce tests,” Hopson said Tuesday.

The shortage comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across the U.K. that has pushed daily new infections to levels not seen since late May and has forced the Conservative government to impose new limits on public gatherings.

Widespread testing is seen as crucial to controlling the spread of coronavirus because it allows those who are infected to self-isolate while helping health officials to identify hot spots and trace those who are infected.

The problem is that the “second wave” of the virus is hitting Britain earlier than anticipated, said John Bell, a professor of […]

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