Huge queues outside Tangmere testing site a 'blip' but increased usage 'shows how bad the virus transmission must be'

Residents have spoken of their shock after seeing hundreds of cars queuing up at the Tangmere Airfield testing site.

Monday, 21st December 2020, 5:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd December 2020, 5:33 pm

Residents reported seeing huge queues at the site on Sunday (December 20), with some claiming that it was the busiest it's ever been.

One local told the Observer: "There are hundreds of cars queuing up at the Tangmere Airfield site today and they have not stopped since 8am when they opened."

Hundreds of cars were said to be queuing up at the Tangmere Airfield testing facility on Sunday. Photo: Katie Gilbert SUS-201222-153504001

However, Tangmere Parish Council chairman Andrew Irwin said 'some of the people in the queue were trying to get home'.

He added: "I was out on Sunday morning and I saw the queue. It surprised me that it was so long but it disappeared within about ten, 15 minutes.

"It was a short term blip, I think, but it does show that there's a lot more usage of it.

"It shows how bad the [virus] transmission must be, if they are using it more.

The facility at Tangmere Airfield provides regional testing capacity for the government’s Test and Trace scheme. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

"There were suggestions that people might be using it to test and trace before they go away for Christmas. No one knows from one day to the next, what they are allowed to do.

"I have no idea if that is why but it was unusual to see a queue."

Mr Irwin said the parish council was going to speak to Chichester District Council about re-routing the cars through the City Fields Business Park, rather than the public highway, but hasn't 'needed to have that discussion yet'.

"Today I haven't seen any traffic jams," he said. "It must have been some blip which caused a tailback which was gone pretty quickly."

The facility at Tangmere Airfield provides regional testing capacity for the government’s Test and Trace scheme. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

West Sussex County Council owns the land where the testing centre is located and has worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care in making the site available.

The government body stressed that there is plenty of capacity for testing.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “NHS Test and Trace has capacity in place to respond to increases in demand and people can have confidence that if they have symptoms and need a test, they can get one. Additional capacity is in place with two new London University laboratories launched last week with a third due to go live this week.

“Individuals should only book PCR tests if they have symptoms of coronavirus —a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste. With one in three people not showing symptoms, broadening testing, through community testing, will mean finding positive cases more quickly.

The facility at Tangmere Airfield provides regional testing capacity for the government’s Test and Trace scheme. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

“It is vital everyone continues to play their part by following the rules and remembering the ‘hands, face, space’ guidance, and coming forward for community testing if it is offered locally. This is the only way we can bring the transmission rates back down and return to normality as soon as possible."

Individuals are asked to only book PCR tests if they are symptomatic.

If you do not have symptoms, contact your local authority about local asymptomatic testing facilities.

The spokesperson added: "Roughly one in three people have the virus without symptoms so could be spreading the disease without knowing it.

"Broadening testing, through community testing, to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly, and break chains of transmission. Local authorities in the worst-affected tier 2 areas will now be offered community testing in addition to tier 3 and tier 4 areas."

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