PEOPLE across Swindon are in the dark over whether they have caught Covid-19 after it was revealed yesterday 43,000 in the south west may have been given negative test results in error.

The announcement from the UK Health Security Agency follows scores of reports from people in the town who had coronavirus symptoms but received negative PCR test results after they have previously tested positive on a lateral flow.

NHS Test and Trace has suspended testing operations provided by Immensa Health Clinic Ltd at its laboratory in Wolverhampton following the probe – and some will now be advised to take another test, as well as close contacts who are symptomatic.

Swindon man Tim Barton, 48, said he and his family received positive lateral flow tests after falling ill with coronavirus symptoms earlier this month but their PCR tests came back negative.

The client relationship director fears the results were connected to the issue at the West Midlands lab and worries about the consequences.

He said: “My son, daughter and myself all had positive (lateral flow tests) – we then had PCR tests done at the test site in Swindon all of which came back negative.

“This will undoubtedly impact people’s confidence in the accuracy of these types of tests… they could have cost lives.”

Several others contacted the Adver or commented on our Facebook page about similar issues they had experienced. 

Anne-Marie Willis said she had Covid symptoms last Tuesday, but after several positive lateral flow tests got negative results back from two PCR tests she had at a Swindon testing centre. 

“I first lost taste and smell on Tuesday which is when I first did a lateral flow, even today, five days later it’s still showing positive on lateral. 

"I've done several, all showing positive.

“I had fever, shortness of breath, body aches, pains and a headache, I self-isolated with my three children.

“I did two PCR tests at a Swindon site which came back negative. I did a home one on Friday which came back positive.”

“It’s a major problem in Swindon right now."

Kirsty Louise Lane said: “My daughter has had a cold, temperature, sore throat and tested positive on lateral several times in the past few weeks, but she had three negative PCRs.

Ali Keating said: “A relative had five positive LFTs, symptoms but had negative PCR tests.

“I know several others who have had the same thing happen too.”

NHS Test and Trace estimates that around 400,000 samples have been processed through the lab. It is is believed the 43,000 people who may have been affected received incorrect PCR test results between September 8 and October 12. 

Samples have now been redirected to other labs for processing and authorities believe this to be an isolated incident affecting a small number of the country’s overall tests.
Swindon Borough Council director of public health Steve Maddern said: “I just want to say a huge thank you to Swindon residents for flagging up this issue.

“A number of individuals have been affected in relation to a single lab, which has now been closed, and all tests have now been diverted.

“What this does tell us or helps to reassure our residents is that this isn’t an issue with the test kit itself. And it is not an issue with the test sites themselves. 

“It has been very much around processing. 

"So we know that around 43,000 people across England, and the majority of them being within the south west will have received an incorrect PCR results in connection to their lateral flow test.”

NHS Test and Trace has has been contacting everyone who could still be infectious to urge them to retake a test, with a text message that says: ‘You recently took a PCR test...There may have been an issue with the result. We strongly recommend that anyone who received a negative test result books in an appointment to be retested.’

“Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms should arrange a PCR test, stay at home and self-isolate until you receive the result from your latest test.”

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”