A BASINGSTOKE councillor has raised concerns about the lack of Covid-19 testing after struggling to book a test for his poorly son.

Cllr Jack Cousens, who represents Brookvale and Kings Furlong, took to Twitter to vent his frustrations at being unable to book at test for his six-year-old, who had developed a high temperature of 38.9 after coming home from school on Thursday evening.

The dad tried to book a test online immediately after being advised to do so by his GP, to rule out Covid-19, but was continuously faced with a message saying, ‘no test sites found’.

The message on the government website at 2pm yesterday read: “We are experiencing very high demand for testing at the moment. Please try again tomorrow. More tests, both for drive-through sites and home delivery, will be made available tomorrow. Please visit this page then.”

However, Cllr Cousens decided to try again later and then received a message saying: “This service is currently very busy. More tests should be available later”.

Eventually, the father-of-two managed to book a test at 8.10pm last night, for today in Salisbury, which he said was the only slot remaining.

Speaking to the Gazette, Cllr Cousens said his son was almost back to normal this morning, but as per government advice the family needed to rule out Covid-19.

Cllr Cousens pointed out that the problem is not down to 111 staff, GPs, those answering the phone on 119, or staff at test centres, but said the fault lies “higher up the food chain”.

He added: “How on earth can you say we have an excellent system when it can’t be used? How can you ask people to get a test when you can’t book one? How can you ask children to go back to schools after 6 months and not have enough tests to go around?

“We all know coronavirus and other illnesses are similar. We’ve all been told that if you meet one of the three symptoms then you should get a test. Kids are brilliant at sharing the germs and the reality is there should’ve been enough tests and lab space before schools reopened.”

The Independent councillor criticised Matt Hancock for blaming people for getting a test when they don’t have Covid-19 symptoms.

The health secretary said the “inappropriate” use of the system was making it harder for people who needed tests to get one.

His message came after the boss of England’s testing system apologised to people who were struggling to book a test.

Cllr Cousens said: “Matt Hancock can’t tell people to ‘get a test’ and then blame them for doing so. You need to take the test between days 1-5 of the first symptoms. Failure to do so means 14-day quarantine. Many people can’t afford that option and it lures them into breaching the rules.

“It would be laughable if it weren’t so shambolic. The PM and health secretary need to take responsibility here, own the problem and find a way to fix it. Burying their heads in the sand and claiming success doesn’t help.”

He fears the country may face another national lockdown if the government fails to address the problem, adding: “If this carries on for another fortnight, I fear the only option points to another nationwide lockdown. Nobody wants that, but it could be where we are heading.”

Cllr Cousens is hopeful that his son has caught a bug or cold at school, with four other children from the same year group also developing similar symptoms.

“The message was we have to get the kids back to school in September. We know schools are fantastic incubators for bugs and colds. The schools have done their best, it’s not their fault. The issue lies with central government. They should have ramped up the number of tests for when the schools went back, and also freed up lab space,” he said, adding: “Running parallel to sending the kids back to school, the government should have made sure that anyone who needs a test can get one.”