THOUSANDS of people in the South West have been urged to get a Covid test immediately after wrong PCR results at a now suspended lab.
An estimated 43,000 people are thought to have wrongly been told they had a negative result when they in fact had the virus.
It comes after hordes of people said they were getting positive results on a home lateral flow test, but negative results after doing a PCR.
After Government investigations, a private laboratory – Immensa Health Clinic Ltd – has been blamed for the chaos.
NHS Test and Trace estimate that around 400,000 samples have been processed through the lab, the vast majority of which will have been negative results.
But an estimated 43,000 people may have been given incorrect negative PCR test results between 8 September and 12 October, mostly in the South West of England.
They may have gone to work or school while carrying the bug, given that the Government advise is to self-isolate only if you have a positive PCR result.
Health chiefs will not be able to detect which people should have got a positive result until everyone is retested.
The NHS is contacting the people that could still be infectious to advise them to take another test.
Close contacts who are symptomatic will also be advised to take a test in line with normal practice.
Experts have said anyone who had a positive lateral flow (LFD) test should get a follow up PCR test again.
Dr Will Welfare, Public Health Incident Director at the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) said: “We have recently seen a rising number of positive LFD results subsequently testing negative on PCR.
“As a result of our investigation, we are working with NHS Test and Trace and the company to determine the laboratory technical issues which have led to inaccurate PCR results being issued to people.
“We have immediately suspended testing at this laboratory while we continue the investigation.
“There is no evidence of any faults with LFD or PCR test kits themselves and the public should remain confident in using them and in other laboratory services currently provided.
“If you get a positive LFD test, it’s important to make sure that you then get a follow up PCR test to confirm you have Covid-19. If you have symptoms of Covid-19, self-isolate and take a PCR test.”
It comes after people in Newbury were told to get a new Covid test by the council.
West Berkshire Council said in a statement some of the tests at the Newbury Showground testing site, operated by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), “have had results sent out that may have incorrectly shown as negative for Covid-19”.
Those who received a negative result for a PCR test between October 3 and 12, as well as their close contacts, were “strongly” encouraged by the local authority to take another test.
Andrea Riposati, CEO of Immensa Health Clinic Ltd, said: "We are fully collaborating with UKHSA on this matter. Quality is paramount for us.
“We have proudly analyzed more than 2.5M samples for NHS Test and Trace, working closely with the great teams at DHSC and UKHSA. We do not wish this matter or anything else to tarnish the amazing work done by the UK in this pandemic."
It comes after the UK yesterday recorded the highest number of cases since July.
A total of 45,066 people got a positive Covid test result, a 26.7 per cent rise in one week, compared with 46,558 on July 20.
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