People are waiting longer for test results from community Covid testing centers in England, figures show.
Only 28% of the tests carried out on these sites returned within 24 hours of the week until September 16.
That’s 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 complete. It comes as the government struggles to increase the capacity of laboratories to process tests.
Access to community testing has had to be rationed as the network of five Lighthouse laboratories, which process tests performed in the community, struggle to keep up with demand.
The opening of a sixth lab in Newport has been postponed from August.
The government said the lab and a seventh in Loughborough would be opened next month, which would double the lab’s capacity to 500,000 by the end of October.
There are three types of community testing centers: drive-thru, walk-in services, and mobile units that are deployed in hotspot areas.
- Average times for regional drive-thru centers fell from 27 hours the previous week to 30 hours.
- Mobile units saw average durations of 31 hours compared to 26
- The performance of local walk-in centers improved slightly, from 35 to 34 hours
However, the processing times for kits sent to nursing homes and private residences have improved. The government has prioritized nursing homes for testing in recent weeks due to the testing shortage.
Tests performed in hospitals are processed by their own laboratories and nine out of 10 results are provided within 24 hours.
The weekly data released by NHS Test and Trace also includes figures on the performance of contact tracers.
They obtained contact details for 77,500 close contacts of people who tested positive, reaching three-quarters of them asking them to self-isolate.
Baroness Dido Harding, director of the NHS Test and Trace, said the system was facing “unprecedented demand”.
“We continue to work tirelessly to strengthen our testing capacity to meet this goal and our goal of 500,000 tests per day, by expanding our network of laboratories and testing sites across the country. ”
Meanwhile, people living in England and Wales are encouraged to download the government contact tracing app after its official release.
NHS Covid-19 is asking users to self-isolate for 14 days if it detects that they are in the vicinity of someone infected with the virus.
It also has a recording scanner to alert homeowners if a place they’ve visited turns out to be an outbreak hotspot.
Anyone aged 16 and over is invited to install the application on their smartphone.