The Greater Manchester town is one of the UK’s biggest COVID-19 hotspots, with the equivalent of 192 new cases per 100,000 people recorded in the week to 10 September. Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said in the hospital there were 23 patients with confirmed coronavirus, and 26 suspected cases. During the past few days, nearly 100 people have turned up at the A&E department asking to be tested for the deadly disease.
Health officials are urging people only to go there if they have had a life-threatening accident, suffering from a serious illness and need urgent medical attention.
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust tweeted: “A&E is currently very busy, managing a high volume of patients who have arrived requesting a #COVID19 test.
“Patients are requested not to turn up to the hospital.”
Dr Francis Andrews, medical director at the trust, said: “We are seeing more people being admitted with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 as a result of the very high rate of infections in Bolton.
Coronavirus map LIVE: The Government is struggling to manage a surge in demand for tests
“This is not a shift we want to see. The situation at the hospital is under control and we were well prepared for this.
“However the rate continuing to rise is of concern, and we continue to urge the people of Bolton to consider others when making decisions that could jeopardise their safety.”
Dr Andrews added: “We are extremely busy in our emergency department as a result of this increase. Only attend this department if you have experienced a life-threatening accident or illness and need urgent medical attention.
“We need to keep people safe, and having limited numbers in this area is key to this. Nearly 100 people have attended the department in recent days requesting a COVID test.”
Chair of the trust, Professor Donna Hall, tweeted: “Very busy emergency department today as poorly people unable to get a test come to us for help.
“This is why it’s so important to have a functioning testing & tracing system – one day of delays can cause hundreds more infections. This is a very worrying situation for us in Bolton.”
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8.47am update: Government needs to ‘dramatically’ increase testing to half a million people per day
Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and also director of University College London’s Institute of Epidemiology & Health, said Matt Hancock’s analysis it could take weeks to sort the current delays was “concerning”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The background to this of course is that we would expect the demand and the capacity to need to rise quite rapidly over the autumn and winter as the number of people who develop symptoms that could be Covid increase.
“Some of our research has shown that at least in the winter, you would expect about half a million people a day to develop symptoms that are typical of Covid – and that would be in a winter when there was no Covid – so you can see that the capacity requirements will have to increase dramatically if we are going to keep up.”
8.43am update: Government facing ‘real challenges’ on coronavirus testing
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has admitted the Government is facing “real challenges” on coronavirus testing and suggested school children and their parents would be the next priority after NHS and social care workers.
He told Sky News: “I think laboratory capacity has been an issue, we’re working our way through that, we’re increasing the number of test centres – we’ve got 400 test centres, getting it up to 500 – but clearly there are still real challenges.
“I think the announcement by (Health Secretary) Matt Hancock yesterday to create a prioritisation system is the right thing to do.
“He is going to develop that very quickly over the next few days, to explain to us what that looks like but I think it has to be the NHS first and then social care.
“And then I think what we need to do is have a cascading system where we know where our priority should be and for me priority should be for children in school and their parents in order to ensure their lives are safe and also importantly they are not disrupted in the way we are seeing.”
8.31am update: India’s coronavirus cases surge past five million
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India has surged past five million following a hige single-day jump of 90,123 infections in the last 24 hours.
It is the second country in the world so far to have cross the grim milestone of five million cumulative cases, after the US.
The data from India’s federal health ministry showed a further 1,290 deaths from COVID-19 have been recorded in the last 24 hours, with the overall total increasing to 82,066.
8.25am update: Japan commits £128m to WHO’s coronavirus vaccine programme
Japan has committed £128million ($165million) for its participation in the coronavirus vaccine programme being run by the World Health Organisation.
The programme, named COVAX, is aimed at helping buy and fairly distribute vaccination shots against COVID-19 around the world.
Japan has also pursued independent arrangements with global pharmaceutical companies to secure vaccines.
The country’s Government has pledged to have enough supply for the whole population by the first half of 2021.
8.17am update: Trump says vaccine could be just weeks away
Donald Trump has claimed a vaccine to figh coronavirus could be just three or four weeks away.
The US President once again defended his handling of the crisis, and predicted a vaccine could be ready for distribution soon.
He said: “We’re very close to having a vaccine.
“If you want to know the truth, the previous administration would have taken perhaps years to have a vaccine because of the FDA and all the approvals.
“And we’re within weeks of getting it you know could be three weeks, four weeks.”
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8.06am update: Boris to face MPs on testing ‘failure’ putting ‘huge pressure’ on NHS
Boris Johnson will clash with senior ministers during Prime Minister’s Questions amid a warning that the failure” of the test and trace system is placing “huge pressure” on the NHS.
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust has said a “high volume” of patients have been arriving to A&E requesting tests.
Trust chair Professor Donna Hall said people in the Greater Manchester town have been trying to get tests via their GPs and the hospital when they could not get them online or at mobile testing units.
She told BBC Radio Four’s The World Tonight: “We had 100 people in our accident and emergency unit today, five ambulances queuing outside.
“This failure of the test and trace system is placing huge pressure on the NHS and social care.”
The latest criticism comes ahead of Mr Johnson’s appearance during PMQs in the House of Commons, where he will face senior MPs who are likely to question him on the Government’s handling of the corornaviurs crisis.
7.45am update: Scottish Government facing new calls over coronavirus testing at airports
Labour is demanding ministers introduce a “robust” system, with passengers tested on arrival into the country, with more checks carried out later.
The party’s transport spokesman Colin Smy5th said this type of scheme is needed after the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown caused job losses across the aviation sector
He insisted the current quarantine system, which requires those arriving in Scotland from countries deemed COVID-19 hotspots to self-isolate for 14 days – is “not fit for purpose”.
“Scotland’s aviation sector is among the industries hit the hardest by Covid-19, with many jobs already lost – and up to around 5,000 now at risk.
“This will have a knock-on effect on our tourism sector in the short and long terms, and we simply can’t afford to stand by.
“That is why Scottish Labour is calling the Scottish Government to work with the aviation sector and the relevant trade unions in Scotland to agree on a specific package of support for the industry.
“We are also calling for an urgent review of the existing quarantine system, which is clearly not fit for purpose.
“It’s time for the Scottish Government to introduce a robust regime of airport testing on arrival – with follow-up testing at home.”