COVID confusion: Testing lab forced to shut down after handing out thousands of false results

Multiple government-run testing sites have been mistakenly giving out false negative COVID test results, and one has been suspended for giving incorrect results to over 40,000 people.

PCR testing
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PCR testing

Authorities have confirmed that a number of testing sites across the country have been giving out false negative PCR test results to those who may actually be COVID-positive.

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Surge in false negative results

Authorities were pushed to investigate the matter after many residents in Newbury Showground alerted them of the mix-up. Now they are urging everyone who took a PCR test between 3 and 12 October to get re-tested and confirm their results.

While the incidents were mainly reported in south-west England, officials have said that testing sites around the country have been affected by this problem. The West Berkshire Council said in a statement:

After receiving reports from local residents in recent weeks that there were concerns about the accuracy of test results from the site, we passed these concerns onto the DHSC for further investigation.
The DHSC has now confirmed that a number of sites nationally may have been affected by this issue, including the one at Newbury Showground.

Testing lab

On Friday morning (15 October) it was reported that a COVID testing lab in Wolverhampton was suspended after an investigation revealed that thousands of people may have received incorrect results for their PCR test. According to Evening Standard, the false results were given to those who got tested between 8 September and 12 October.

NHS Test and Trace and UK's Health Security Agency was looking into why people were getting negative PCR results after being found positive by a lateral flow test when they came upon this startling revelation. So far, they've estimated that 43,000 people may have walked away with the wrong results. The Health Security Agency said in a statement:

This is an isolated incident attributed to one laboratory but all samples are now being redirected to other laboratories.
The number of tests carried out at the Immensa laboratory are small in the context of the wider network and testing availability is unaffected around the country.
NHS TT is contacting the people that could still be infectious to advise them to take another test.
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