The Government can’t just ignore us

SO, after people in Oxfordshire were asked to travel to Wales, Birmingham and the Isle of Wight to get a coronavirus test, it now turns out there are actually very easy ways to get a test here.

Some people have just turned up at the testing centre at Oxford Brookes and walked in to get swabbed, while others have seemingly ‘hacked’ the system by booking a test in Scotland, then going to Brookes and using that code.

The cynical interpretation mooted by some yesterday was that testing managers had purposefully under-advertised the fact that people could so easily walk into Brookes, to keep numbers low.

The much simpler answer is that this is more cock-up than conspiracy.

As with huge amounts of the international response to this brand-new disease, governments have had to think on their feet and rapidly cobble together huge complex systems to protect people.

Some would say the UK Government has failed in its duty, and missed opportunities to do better.

Others might say ministers are desperately trying to build the best castle they can on shifting sands.

Others would doubtless say Boris Johnson’s Government are doing a first-rate job in some ways.

It’s probably a bit of all three.

What is hard to justify, however, is to completely ignore a significant failure and refuse to talk about it.

Yesterday, we asked the Department of Health and Social Care a single question – did it encourage people in Oxfordshire to use this loophole to book a test in another part of the country and then use the code they were given at Oxford Brookes.

The department’s press office sent us a lengthy statement which at no point even answered that question.

Therefore, in the absence of official guidance from the Government, we have presented the facts as we understand them today.

We hope it might be of use to some people.