The online application system for essential workers to book coronavirus tests has temporarily closed following huge demand.
The new government website will reopen tomorrow following a large number of applications.
Within hours of the new website going live this morning, those looking to book a coronavirus test online were met with the message to “check back later”, after being told: “You can’t currently register for a COVID-19 test.”
Earlier, the website had also displayed the message that Friday’s allocation of home-testing kits had already been reached.
Around 1,000 home testing kits were available to order on Friday, with this number being increased to 18,000 per day by the end of next week.
Tens of thousands of slots – including some same-day appointments – at drive-through centres were understood to have been available when the online booking system first opened this morning.
Soon after 11am, the Department of Health and Social Care posted on Twitter: “There has been significant demand for booking tests today.
“We apologise for any inconvenience. We are continuing to rapidly increase availability.
“More tests will be available tomorrow.”
A government source said the website hadn’t crashed and the temporary closure was “a positive” as it showed that there was huge demand for COVID-19 tests.
It is understood online applications were closed to make sure the volumes are manageable and those tests already booked in can be fulfilled.
The source added it showed why increasing capacity for testing was so important.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Thursday announced the expansion of coronavirus testing to all essential workers – and members of their households – who show COVID-19 symptoms.
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