A UK coronavirus test centre sat empty today — as NHS trusts send hundreds of staff swabs to Germany because the results come back twice as fast.

Just 75 workers were tested at drive-through centre Chessington World of Adventures, which shut for lunch.

Drive-through centre Chessington World of Adventures tested just 75 workers for coronavirus today

Public Health England (PHE) facilities can take up to four days to test samples, say sources.

But German labs are flying in and processing swabs on the same day. NHS staff then get their results just two days later.

Total UK daily testing for the virus was 10,657 on Wednesday.

It will be weeks before we hit the 25,000 mark promised by the PM. Germany is ­carrying out 70,000 a day.

About 5,000 NHS staff out of a frontline workforce of more than 500,000 have been tested since Friday.

It is estimated 85 per cent of self- ­isolating staff could return to work if given the all-clear.

Today Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he wanted 100,000 daily tests by the month’s end as part of a new “five-pillar” strategy.

It includes working with private labs to boost checks on NHS staff — and screening the public to see if they are immune from the virus.

Ministers also aim to build mass-testing facilities to meet future demand.


Mr Hancock said the UK did not have a diagnostics industry like Germany, so was building from scratch.

A country-wide shortage of swabs had been resolved.

But there remained a global challenge in sourcing the chemicals needed for kits, he said.

Mr Hancock added: “I understand why staff want tests.

“But I took the decision that the priority has to be patients for whom test results could be the difference between life or death.”

Northampton General Hospital sent samples from 400 staff to the German labs of Eurofins Biomnis on Monday. Results were returned on Wednesday.

Kettering General Hospital and Northamptonshire Healthcare have also been invited to take part.

A source said: “PHE said they’d be able to get results back within 24 hours but they don’t have the capacity for that turnaround.”

  • Mr Hancock admitted the Government had made mistakes during the crisis. But he said he had listened to all complaints to “work out what we can do better”.
  • He said the goal of 100,000 tests a day would be made up of both checks for current infection, as well as antibody tests to see whether people have previously had the killer bug. Mr Hancock has just recovered from Covid-19, and said his time off ill has “redoubled my determination to fight this virus with everything I’ve got”.
  • Yesterday the UK daily death toll rose to a new grim high of 569.
  • There were 4,324 new infections on Thursday — more than a 40 per cent jump from the previous day’s 3,009. Plans are being drawn up to issue people with immunity certificates once the antibody tests are ready for roll-out.

Meanwhile the global number of confirmed coronavirus cases passed one million — five months after the virus started in China.

But 180 people were tested in the first two hours at Wembley Ikea, North London. Testers were expecting 700, and could cope with 1,000.

Recovering Prince Charles will today appear by video from his home at Balmoral, to open the NHS Nightingale hospital in London’s ExCeL.

Emergency hospitals were today announced for Bristol and Harrogate.