The Greater Manchester town is one of the UK’s biggest COVID-19 hotspots, with the equivalent of 192 new cases per 100,000 people recorded in the week to 10 September. Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said in the hospital there were 23 patients with confirmed coronavirus, and 26 suspected cases. During the past few days, nearly 100 people have turned up at the A&E department asking to be tested for the deadly disease.
Health officials are urging people only to go there if they have had a life-threatening accident, suffering from a serious illness and need urgent medical attention.
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust tweeted: “A&E is currently very busy, managing a high volume of patients who have arrived requesting a #COVID19 test.
“Patients are requested not to turn up to the hospital.”
Dr Francis Andrews, medical director at the trust, said: “We are seeing more people being admitted with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 as a result of the very high rate of infections in Bolton.
“This is not a shift we want to see. The situation at the hospital is under control and we were well prepared for this.
“However the rate continuing to rise is of concern, and we continue to urge the people of Bolton to consider others when making decisions that could jeopardise their safety.”
Dr Andrews added: “We are extremely busy in our emergency department as a result of this increase. Only attend this department if you have experienced a life-threatening accident or illness and need urgent medical attention.
“We need to keep people safe, and having limited numbers in this area is key to this. Nearly 100 people have attended the department in recent days requesting a COVID test.”
Chair of the trust, Professor Donna Hall, tweeted: “Very busy emergency department today as poorly people unable to get a test come to us for help.
“This is why it’s so important to have a functioning testing & tracing system – one day of delays can cause hundreds more infections. This is a very worrying situation for us in Bolton.”
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7.45am update: Scottish Government facing new calls over coronavirus testing at airports
Labour is demanding ministers introduce a “robust” system, with passengers tested on arrival into the country, with more checks carried out later.
The party’s transport spokesman Colin Smy5th said this type of scheme is needed after the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown caused job losses across the aviation sector
He insisted the current quarantine system, which requires those arriving in Scotland from countries deemed COVID-19 hotspots to self-isolate for 14 days – is “not fit for purpose”.
“Scotland’s aviation sector is among the industries hit the hardest by Covid-19, with many jobs already lost – and up to around 5,000 now at risk.
“This will have a knock-on effect on our tourism sector in the short and long terms, and we simply can’t afford to stand by.
“That is why Scottish Labour is calling the Scottish Government to work with the aviation sector and the relevant trade unions in Scotland to agree on a specific package of support for the industry.
“We are also calling for an urgent review of the existing quarantine system, which is clearly not fit for purpose.
“It’s time for the Scottish Government to introduce a robust regime of airport testing on arrival – with follow-up testing at home.”