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Hospitals in England Face Coronavirus Test Shortages

Αssociated Press

The Palace Theatre in the West End is closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak, in London, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

LONDON -- Hospitals in England say a shortage of coronavirus tests in Britain is jeopardizing efforts to restore medical services and prepare for a potential surge in coronavirus cases this winter.

National Health Service Providers says inadequate testing is leading to increased absences among NHS workers as they are forced to self-isolate while waiting for test results after possible exposures.

The shortage comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across the U.K. Last week, the U.K. recorded more than 3,000 new cases of the virus for three straight days for the first time since May. In response, the government has imposed new limits on public gatherings.

The government says it can process about 243,000 coronavirus tests a day, up from 220,000 at the end of August. The problem is the “second wave? of the virus is hitting Britain earlier than anticipated, said John Bell, a professor of medicine at the University of Oxford.

The U.K. is No. 14 in coronavirus cases in the world with 373,559 and No. 5 in deaths with 41,726, according to the Johns Hopkins. On Aug. 20, the reported death count in the U.K. was 41,483.