Lincolnshire needs “as many testing options as possible”, health bosses have said as they revealed they had only carried out 100 of the 1000 tests a day they had expected to.
Director of public health at Lincolnshire County Council Derek Ward said Lincolnshire had been expected to have capacity to carry out 1% of the government’s original target – but this had so far not come to pass.
“At the moment we’re not seeing the numbers required and because it looks like we have flattened the epidemic curve I wouldn’t expect we’d need it in this particular phase, however, having that capacity is important so anyone who does want or meet the criteria for a test can get one.”
He said the increase in confirmed cases over the past few days from 585 on Monday to 712 yesterday – a jump of 127 – was expected due to more testing of key workers being carried out in the county.
He confirmed around 300 people had been swabbed in the past three days.
However, he said the number of deaths was flattening out – with yesterday’s total hitting 86, one more than Wednesday.
So far this week there has been a recorded 12 new deaths in Lincolnshire, down from 21 recorded between April 13-19 and 29 between April 6-12.
The county currently has an infection rate of 78 for every 100,000 of population, the lowest in the midlands.
“We’ve been doing a really good job in Lincoln, and that’s down to people following the advice,” said Mr Ward.
The government yesterday announced that all essential workers would be eligible for booking tests through the www.gov.uk/coronavirus website.
The list includes social care workers, police officers, teachers, those in the justice system, supermarket and food production workers, journalists and transport workers.
Online applications closed after just a few hours due to overwhelming demand on Friday, April 24.
Mr Ward threw doubts over the effectiveness of a proposed single site at Lincolnshire Showground in the face of the tests.
Bosses have yet to decide if the three existing sites in Lincoln and Boston would close once the bigger site opens and Mr Ward repeated concerns over the size and rurality of the county.
“In Lincolnshire we have real experiences of delivering services across the large and dispersed rural county and we need as many options as possible available to the people of Lincolnshire to get tested,” he said.
“While one big high-capacity testing site makes a lot of sense for a chunk of the county we need to make sure we’ve got other options available.”
Solutions include previously suggested mobile units. Meanwhile residents on the outer regions of the county, such as Grantham and Stamford, could instead go to Nottinghamshire or Peterborough testing sites if they are closer.
Postal testing is also starting to be introduced.