COVID-19: Main UK testing lab suffers coronavirus outbreak after claims of security breaches

A laboratory technician wearing full PPE (personal protective equipment) cleans a test tube containing a live sample taken from people tested for the novel coronavirus, at a new Lighthouse Lab facility dedicated to testing for COVID-19, at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow on April 22, 2020. - The laboratory is part of a network of diagnostic testing facilities, along with other Lighthouse Lab sites in Milton Keynes and Cheshire, that will test samples from regional test centres around Britain where NHS staff and front-line workers with suspected Covid-19 infections have gone to have swabs taken for testing. (Photo by Andrew Milligan / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW MILLIGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The UK’s greatest testing lab has been hit by an outbreak of coronavirus after what one employee claimed had been repeated breaches of COVID security guidelines, Sky Information has realized.

Optimistic instances have been reported in three of the 4 scientific groups on the Milton Keynes Lighthouse Laboratory, in addition to amongst administrative and warehouse employees on the website.

It isn’t identified how many individuals have been affected by the outbreak, however round 20 individuals in a single 70-person lab crew are presently isolating, in keeping with a employee on the laboratory who requested to stay nameless.

The outbreak has positioned appreciable pressure on the lab, which has been requested to course of 70,000 checks a day with a purpose to sustain with rising demand.

The supply stated that 47,000 had been processed on Tuesday, including: “No likelihood we’ll ever hit 70,000 a day the best way we’re going.”

The lab employee additionally raised issues in regards to the security of the lab, saying that guidelines put in place to maintain employees secure had been being damaged with a purpose to meet targets – a declare the Division of Well being and Social Care denied.

Sky Information understands the Lighthouse Lab is meant to have a bubble system in place with a purpose to maintain employees separate, following a suggestion from the Well being and Security Govt, which visited the positioning lately.

But in keeping with the supply, the bubble system will not be being revered with staff on the short-staffed lab being moved between teams, risking additional cross-contamination.

The lab employee stated there had additionally been mixing within the constructing’s lobbies and on the canteen.

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Workers on the laboratory have been provided a vast variety of checks and new employees are examined after they arrive.

The lab employee stated that new recruits had been sitting within the canteen whereas they waited for his or her take a look at outcomes.

In response to the lab employee, one new warehouse employees member acquired a optimistic take a look at end result after they’d sat within the canteen throughout a interval when an entire lab crew had been in there for a break.

“The entire thing’s a joke,” they stated.

Workers on the Lighthouse Labs have given up Christmas with a purpose to work 12-hour shifts in what the supply described as “cramped working circumstances” on the Milton Keynes laboratory, which is predicated on the UK Biocentre.

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How dependable is mass testing?

The centre was transformed in April into the biggest testing lab within the UK, able to processing tens of hundreds of checks a day.

The Lighthouse Lab system has dramatically elevated the UK’s testing capability however has been criticised for not being sufficiently related to the remainder of the healthcare service.

Sky Information understands the administration continues to be largely run by a crew from administration consultancy Deloitte.

A spokesperson for the Division of Well being and Social Care confirmed it was conscious of the outbreak on the Lighthouse Laboratory, however insisted all authorities pointers on COVID-secure work procedures had been adopted.

“NHS Check and Hint continues to check report numbers of individuals and other people can trust that if they’ve signs and want a take a look at, they will get one,” they stated.

“We’re delivering an unprecedented quantity of checks – greater than 450,000 yesterday alone – and during times of excessive demand our focus is guaranteeing that anybody with signs can get a take a look at.

“All our take a look at websites and our residence take a look at service might be obtainable for bookings as regular over the Christmas interval.”

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