Christmas ruined for large groups of people awaiting PCR results

Many people have been left anxious whilst waiting for their PCR results this Christmas Eve.

As the festive day looms, frustrated people have been isolating whilst waiting for their Covid-19 test results to come back.

Manchester Evening News reports that some across the North West of England have been waiting up to four or five days with no result, with others stating that it took almost a week to get a text or email notifying them.

According to the UK government website, most people should receive their swab results within two days, although they have warned that this may take longer.

The delays appear to have hit both the home testing kits and walk-in centres across the region.

Many are now have to rearrange their Christmas plans, with some people the festive period alone.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Bethany Jones said she’s had no symptoms, but after taking her daily lateral flow test, it came back positive so she went for a PCR test on the morning of December 21.

“I’ve still had no results,” she said.

“As I’m past the deadline they said they will send it to investigation but it will be up to another 3 days before I hear back off them.

“I am so angry at the whole situation and the fact I could be alone all over Christmas potentially for no reason at all.”

Bethany said she works from home, but whilst her work has been unaffected, it had massively impacted her mental health.

“All of which could be avoided if results could be provided on time,” she said.

“I’m now spending Christmas alone.”

She added that those in the same household haven’t been affected, and after they went for PCR tests, they had their results back within 24 hours.

Anna and her housemates went to a drive-in test centre on Tuesday morning, none of them had symptoms though one had a positive lateral flow test.

“We work for the NHS so we don’t want to infect anybody else,” she said.

“My housemate was due to go away for Christmas and I was due to see my family. Isolation for us now!”

Spencer Cooper said he sent his home-kit test off, also on Tuesday.

He said he has had anxiety of waiting everyday for the results to come back and was initially unsure if he and his partner could go home for Christmas.

“Then today my lateral flows have come back positive,” he said.

“Still no PCR results so I’m unsure how long to self isolate for and it would have been too late to travel now.

“I called up this morning as you have to wait between 72 and 96 hours before they can report it – they said another team will be in touch – so now we just wait again.”

When asked how he felt about the situation he said ‘a bit hopeless’.

Queues of people outside a walk-in Covid-19 testing site, at the Mosses Centre in Bury
Queues of people outside a walk-in Covid-19 testing site, at the Mosses Centre in Bury

“This is the main chunk of time off I get in the year and whilst I will be able to relax, I won’t be able to see friends and family which I’ve waited a whole year to do.

“Thankfully me and my boyfriend will be able to explore making our first Christmas dinner and hopefully don’t burn the place down too.

“We both had plans to see family so we’re just trying to make the best of a bad situation.”

A nurse who works in Greater Manchester said she was still waiting for her results after 48 hours.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I rang 119 and they say the results aren’t uploaded to them until 96 hours later.

“Staff are off ill with covid and also off waiting for PCR results when they could be negative.

“Personally, the period to find out if positive or negative means I might be isolating unnecessarily.

“It’s had an impact on both my job and my life.

“Especially because it’s Christmas, it means I haven’t been able to see my family today.

“Again because of not knowing the result, not because of a confirmed covid case.

“I suspect the system is overwhelmed because of the increase in tests being done and probably lab staff off sick or waiting for results.”

David Bonser said he went to the test site in Hazel Grove on Tuesday, and only just got his results back this afternoon (December 24). He said it ‘left us in limbo’ as to whether he and his partner would cancel Christmas.

Lee, speaking on social media, said his daughter went for a PCR test on Saturday afternoon in Oldham after testing positive on a lateral flow test.

He said the result only came through on Wednesday night.

“I know loads who have tested positive on lateral flows and not bothered with a PCR test because they’re taking ages – it’s a mess to be honest.

“We were meant to be going to the football on Boxing Day as a family and a family party, but that’s off now as her last day to isolate is Sunday.

“We are not too bad, fingers crossed we stay like that, but gutted for my daughter. She is 18 and she should be out with her pals.”

Another woman said: “My boyfriend and I went to Hazel Grove drive through on Monday (21st) at 12.30, we got our results back at 1pm today (24th) so a 4 day wait, it’s been so stressful.

“I’m negative but my boyfriend tested positive.

“We also ordered a lateral flow test pack online on Saturday and haven’t had anything, not even a dispatch notification yet, and have nearly run out of LFTs.”

Another woman said they were waiting for results from a PCR test they sent back on the 21st.

“It delayed Christmas plans, and caused a lot of stress and worry.

“I tested because someone at my work caught the Omicron variant and because of how contagious it is, I did it as a precaution before travelling home as I couldn’t get my hands on a lateral flow.”

Earlier this week we reported that Royal Mail said they are not experiencing delays to the collection of NHS kits from priority postboxes in Manchester, with more than 99 per cent delivered on time to the lab.

A UK Health Security Agency spokesperson said: “Due to record levels of demand over the past week we are seeing a temporary increase in turnaround times for PCR test results.

“Fast action has been taken to expand processing capability and add extra capacity to our laboratory network to meet this exceptional demand.

“Our lab technicians and scientists are working as fast as possible to ensure the public receives their results quickly and we apologise to anyone that is having to wait a little longer for their test result.”

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