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Website problem for nurses trying to book COVID-19 test online

High demand forced government site to say ‘applications closed’ – will reopen tomorrow


Picture: iStock

The government’s launch of an online booking system for COVID-19 tests has run into problems with its website not accepting new applications as of mid-morning today.

Yesterday health and social care secretary Matt Hancock announced that nurses and other key workers in England could book a test online on the government’s COVID-19 website

‘We are making it easier, faster and simpler for any essential worker in England who needs a test to get a test,’ he said.

Message brings frustration for applicants

But on the morning of the service’s launch, applicants are seeing the following message: ‘Coronavirus test: applications closed. You can't currently register for a Covid-19 test. Please check back here later.’

The Department of Health and Social care has tweeted an apology for the failure, which reads: ‘There has been significant demand for booking tests today. We apologise for any inconvenience.

‘We are continuing to rapidly increase availability. More tests will be available tomorrow.’

Plea for only legitimate applicants to book test

The government said that within two minutes of the site going live this morning, 5,000 tests were ordered – which reached the capacity the site can handle in one day.

It also revealed that the system cannot verify if someone is an essential worker, so it wants applicants to ‘respond in good faith’.

COVID-19 test: how the process should work

Who is eligible for the test?

Key workers and members of their household who are displaying symptoms of the virus.

The key worker list includes health and social care staff, such as nurses, doctors, midwives, paramedics, social workers and carers.

How can I arrange a test?

Key workers need to click on the ‘Testing for coronavirus (COVID-19)’ link on the government’s COVID-19 website and enter their details. They will then receive an email or text the same day inviting them to book at test.

They can choose between booking an appointment at one of the regional drive-through test sites or being sent a home test kit.

However, the government has stressed that the number of home test kits will initially be limited, so it is encouraging people to attend a regional test site if they can.

People who cannot go online can book a test through their employer who can also refer self-isolating staff.

How is the test carried out?

The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, and can be done by the person themselves or by someone else.

When will the results arrive?

Test results from the drive-through sites will be sent out by text within 48 hours, and within 72 hours of collection of the home test kits.

Separate guidance is available regarding testing in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland


Further information


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