25 September 2020


News summary

Daily COVID-19 figures update

The number of global cases and mortalities can be followed here, and the number of UK cases can be followed here. Live news updates can be found on the BBC website.

Test turnaround times getting longer in England

People are waiting longer for test results from England's community COVID-19 testing centres, figures show. Only 28% of tests carried out in these venues came back in 24 hours in the week up to 16 September. That is down from one in three last week, and two in three the week before, NHS Test and Trace said. Just over 5% of tests took more than three days to turn around. It comes as the government is struggling to increase lab capacity to process tests. Access to community testing has had to be rationed because the network of five Lighthouse Labs, which process tests done in the community, are struggling to keep up with demand. The opening of a sixth lab in Newport has been delayed from August. The UK Government said that lab and a seventh in Loughborough would be open by next month, helping to double lab capacity to 500,000 by the end of October. Turnaround times for kits posted out to care homes and people's private homes improved, however. The UK Government has been prioritising care homes for testing in recent weeks amid the shortage of tests. Testing carried out in hospitals is processed by their own labs, and nine in 10 test results are provided in 24 hours.

Charity: COVID-19 anxiety causing people to go without food

Some people with mental health conditions are going hungry because of their anxiety about coronavirus, according to a charity. Growing Space said some people would "starve themselves" rather than leave home to go to the shops. Aneurin Bevan health board said clinicians were expecting a surge in mental health referrals this winter. The health board is already seeing rising levels of anxiety in those with existing mental health problems. Rhiannon Currie, 36, has seen her anxiety increase throughout the pandemic, which has meant she has sometimes gone without food. "I feel a lot better when I'm home because I know no-one is going to get me and nothing is going to get me," she said. When Ms Currie is hungry, she prefers to order a supermarket delivery to her home and wait for that, which can sometimes take days, rather than leave her home. "If I decide to go to the shop and I really need to get something I'll psych myself up to go out, or I'll think I don't feel like going out today, I'll go out tomorrow and I keep putting it off," she said. Growing Space, which helps people with mental health conditions access food and medication, said it was expecting a wave of people needing help

UK failing to use its high COVID-19 test capacity efficiently, study shows

The UK has a comparatively high test capacity but is failing to use it efficiently in tackling COVID-19, researchers say, raising concerns including a lack of follow-up and adequate financial support of those isolating. The test and trace system has been heavily criticised in recent weeks, with some people advised to travel hundreds of miles for a test and turnaround times plummeting. Now researchers have compared it with systems in five other countries – Germany, Ireland, South Africa, Spain and South Korea – finding that while the UK has the highest proven test capacity, its system has serious flaws. “It is no use having, as we have, a very high relative number of tests if that doesn’t lead to people being isolated and supported so that we break chains of infection,” said Prof Michael Hopkins of the University of Sussex business school, a co-author of the work. The study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, compared the test and trace systems of the six countries with the five principles of an optimal programme, as set out by the UK’s Independent Sage committee, such as the need for quick and accessible testing and isolation of infectious individuals. The team also looked at recommendations from the World Health Organization.

News in brief