- Britain’s busiest coronavirus testing lab has been hit by a COVID-19 outbreak of its own, according to a report from Sky News.
- A number of workers at the Lighthouse Laboratory in Milton Keynes have contracted the virus in recent days, amid a push to process more tests.
- Workers at the lab told Sky that during the push, corners were being cut on COVID-safe workplace protocols.
- The government confirmed the existence of the outbreak, but denied that any guidelines on safety have been broken at the lab.
- It is unclear how many workers at the lab have been infected.
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The UK’s biggest coronavirus test processing facility has been hit by a COVID-19 outbreak of its own, according to a Christmas Eve report from Sky News.
Sky reports that a number of workers at the Milton Keynes Lighthouse Laboratory — which has reportedly been asked to process 70,000 tests per day — have contracted the virus in recent days.
Staff on three of the four scientific teams at the lab, as well as administrative and warehouse staff have been infected, Sky says.
It is currently unclear how many people have been impacted by the outbreak.
The British government confirmed to Sky that the outbreak exists, but insisted that the lab has followed all protocols for staying COVID secure in the workplace.
“NHS Test and Trace continues to test record numbers of people and people can have confidence that if they have symptoms and need a test, they can get one,” the Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement to Sky.
“We are delivering an unprecedented volume of tests — more than 450,000 yesterday alone — and during periods of high demand our focus is ensuring that anyone with symptoms can get a test.”
Workers at the laboratory, however, expressed concerns to Sky News that demands to process a higher volume of tests as the UK battles a rapidly-spreading outbreak of a new coronavirus variant have led to corners being cut. The report says that the center is being asked to process 70,000 tests per day, but is currently processing around 50,000.
One worker who asked for anonymity reportedly told the news site that: “Rules put in place to keep staff safe were being broken in order to meet targets.” The government denied this suggestion when asked by Sky News.
The Milton Keynes’ lab outbreak comes amid surging virus numbers in the UK, which is thought to be the epicenter of a new variant of coronavirus believed by scientists to be significantly easier to transmit person-to-person.
The outbreak has led to tighter restrictions across the UK, and for UK travellers attempting to go overseas, including a short-lived closure of the UK-France border, which has caused days of chaos.