Coronavirus: Testing issues ‘to be solved in weeks’ and ‘mingling’ families ‘breaking rule of six’


Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Tuesday evening. We’ll have another update for you on Wednesday morning.

1. Testing system faces ‘enormous challenge’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told MPs that issues with the virus testing system will be solved “in a matter of weeks”. He gave the time frame after being challenged by MPs over testing shortages, with Labour saying no tests were available in virus “hotspots” over the weekend. Mr Hancock said the testing system was facing an “enormous challenge” and he wanted to make sure those “who most need” tests were prioritised. Our health correspondent Nick Triggle says that despite the health secretary’s promises to fix the system, there will be no easy solution to the shortages. “As cases go up so will demands on the testing system,” he writes. Find out more about how the testing issues are affecting people here.

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Media captionThe BBC spoke to people trying to get tests at a centre in Oldham

2. ‘Mingling’ families would be breaking rules – Patel

Families stopping to chat in the street would be in breach of the rule-of-six restrictions, the home secretary has said. Priti Patel told the BBC’s Today programme that two families of four stopping for a chat on the way to the park would be “absolutely mingling”. When pressed, she also said she would report her neighbours if they broke the rules. It comes after policing minister Kit Malthouse suggested that people should ring the non-emergency 101 number if they had concerns that people were breaking the law. Here is a helpful explainer about the new social distancing rules.

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Media captionPriti Patel explains why “mingling” is against the latest Covid-19 restrictions

3. ‘I got a job after 280 rejections’

If you want an idea of just how tough the job market is right now, ask Hannah Webb. She was made redundant during lockdown and it took her 280 attempts to get a new job. “I was pretty much waking up every day to a rejection email. It was devastating,” said Hannah, 23, who, fittingly, found a job in careers advice. Find out how she kept her confidence up and looked after herself as she faced rejection. She’s been sharing her experience with Radio 1 Newsbeat as the latest figures show UK unemployment reached its highest level for two years, with those aged 16 to 24 suffering the biggest drop in employment. The chancellor has said looking for new ways to protect jobs is his “number one priority”.

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Hannah Webb

4. Nearly 9 in 10 pupils returned to school

There had been speculation that some parents would keep their children at home when schools reopened – but the first official figures show 88% of pupils in England went back for the start of the autumn term. This is a higher absence rate than the usual figure of about 5% but it’s not broken down to show whether pupils were at home because of Covid outbreaks. Since reopening, there have been repeated local cases of schools having to send home year groups of pupils, either because of infections or because of problems with getting tests for staff or pupils.

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PA Media

5. Delight as rarely sighted Dolphin makes waves

The Chinese white dolphin is rarely spotted off Hong Kong, but thanks to restrictions brought in because of the pandemic, they are making a comeback. There are hardly any boats and ferries around Hong Kong now because of the restrictions, and as a result, sightings of the vulnerable creature have increased, according to marine researchers. See it in action here:

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Media captionHong Kong’s dolphins make comeback during pandemic

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And don’t forget…

Find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

Amid issues with the coronavirus testing service, find out more about getting a test and the system’s capacity.


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