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24 April 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Lunchtime summary: Rocky start for government’s key worker testing scheme

By Samuel Horti

The government website set up to allow key workers and their families to book a free coronavirus test had, within hours of launching, stopped accepting applications.

You can view the news one of two ways. On one hand, the fact that the tests, which will mostly be conducted through drive-through centres, booked up so quickly shows that the government’s announcement cut through, and that many people with symptoms are eager to get tested. On the other, it shows that the testing system doesn’t yet have the capacity to cope with the demand. The government, surely, did not foresee booking slots fill up so quickly.

More tests will be available tomorrow, the government said, and testing capacity should increase over the coming weeks as more test sites open and more home testing kits become available (today, the government only gave away 1,000, which were all snapped up before 9am).

In other news, TfL is to furlough 7,000 staff from Monday, which is around a quarter of its workforce. It will claim money through the government’s furlough scheme, and staff will be temporarily out of work for an initial period of three weeks. 

Meanwhile, Eruopean Union Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton said the EU economy was due to shrink by between 5 and 10 per cent because of the crisis, and an Office for National Statistics survey found that the Covid-19 crisis is disproportionately affecting disabled people.