A father was left stunned after seeing hundreds of people standing in a ‘five hour’ queue waiting for Covid tests at a walk-in centre in Manchester.
Tony Kirvin, 43, needed to get his son Michael tested after the 14-year-old started showing mild symptoms and was sent home from school.
The nearest testing centre was a 120-mile round trip, which he said was not feasible, so Mr Kirvin instead drove to a walk-in centre near their home in Bury on Thursday.
But he was shocked to see hundreds of people queuing up outside the Mosses Centre, with many not wearing masks, video footage shows.
Tony Kirvin, 43, was shocked to see hundreds waiting in a ‘five hour’ queue for Covid tests at Mosses Centre in Bury, Manchester, on Thursday
While filming the queue, Mr Kirvin says: ‘This guys is the queue for the walk-in Covid centre in Bury. Look at the f***ing size of this queue.
‘Jesus f***ing christ it just goes on and on and on. No wonder we are in the middle of a pandemic.’
Mr Kirvin said his wife was told there was ‘no chance’ they would get into the centre as the wait was at least five hours.
He added that there was ‘absolutely no way’ they could join the line as his son, who has autism, would have ‘had a meltdown’ standing in a queue for that long.
The father-of-four said: ‘We couldn’t find a test anywhere until I saw this walk-in place.
‘But when we arrived the queue was huge – there must have been at least 100 people.
‘My son is autistic, no way he could stand in a queue that long. He’d have a melt down.
‘It’s just shocking to see, but not surprising considering schools have been reopened and we’ve had the eat out to help out scheme.
‘It was inevitable.’
The full-time carer managed to get a test for his son at the Heywood site and is set to receive the results in the next two days.
The father-of-four filmed the lengthy queue after driving his 14-year-old son Michael to get a test because he was sent home from school after developing mild symptoms
Councillor Andrea Simpson, Bury Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: ‘Bury has opened a number of walk-through testing centres to improve access and options for local people that are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, additional sites are due to open very soon.
‘Demand for testing is increasing at a national level and in response to this, having these local testing options helps to meet this demand locally.
‘As a result of this demand, our walk-through centres have become increasingly busy, and whilst the centres will test as many symptomatic people as possible, at busy times, there may be a wait, and if demand is very high people may be asked to consider other testing options.
‘It’s really important that our walk-through centres are reserved for people who are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, many people coming to the centres have no symptoms.
‘People not experiencing symptoms should not request a test and will not be tested at the centres.
‘For people with symptoms coming to one of the centres, it is important to stay a safe distance from other people and to wear a face covering on the journey to and from the site.’
It follows nationwide complaints from frustrated people who have been told to travel hundreds of miles to find out if they have Covid-19.
A shortage in UK laboratory capacity has been blamed for problems, as it limits the number of appointments available.
But the failings heap fresh doubt on whether Boris Johnson’s ‘Operation Moonshot’ strategy is possible.
The nearest testing centre was a 120-mile round trip, which Mr Kirvin said was not feasible, so he instead drove to a walk-in centre near their home but was faced with shocking queues
The ambitious £100billion scheme aims to carry out millions of tests every day by early next year.
Charlie Ledington, of Worcester, had to keep her five children off school because she was unable to book an appointment for her youngest child Chloe, two.
She was repeatedly told the system was busy when she began trying on Wednesday.
At 11pm she was offered a test at a centre in Wales, a four-hour drive away – only to be told there was no availability when she tried to confirm it.
The following day she was offered spaces in Droitwich, Bristol and Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, only to be told again no appointments were available.
‘It’s a mess. I’ve had to keep my children off school. We all have had to isolate for ten days now,’ she said.
It also emerged on Thursday that residents in Brighton are being directed 67 miles away to the Isle of Wight – including a ferry ride.
Brighton Kemptown Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle said: ‘This is after they closed the Brighton testing centre. Absolute shambles.’
A Department of Health spokesman said it was ‘targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most’, adding: ‘Our capacity is the highest it has ever been and our laboratories are processing more than a million tests a week.’