A MOTHER from Reading was informed she couldn't book a Covid-19 test for her symptomatic daughter because she was under 18.

Lisa Digweed's daughter had symptoms of a cold last week which has since developed into a cough.

She is not allowed to attend school for two weeks unless she has a test to confirm she doesn't have Covid-19.

READ MORE: West Berkshire mother who couldn't get daughter tested feels like 'failure'

Lisa said: "The school quite rightly has said to keep her off for two weeks or until we get a test.

"I attempted to get a test yesterday (September 14).

"Whilst there are 42 tests available at my "nearest site" in Fawley [Hampshire], I can't book one as my child is under 18.

"Given the government has impressed upon us the importance of children not missing anymore school, it's a bit of a contradiction that a lot of testing sites are 'over 18' only.

"Also my daughter has some learning difficulties, so missing school really isn't great for a child who is already trailing her peers academically."

Lisa's story is one of many across the town and the wider country since pupils returned to school at the beginning of the month.

Moz Bulbeck Reynolds, from West Berkshire, has also had to keep her nine-year-old daughter Matilda off school this week because she has been unable to get a test.

Having stayed at home last Thursday and Friday with cold symptoms, Matilda was refused entry to the school on Monday until she received a test, as per the local council's rules.

Reading Chronicle:

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MP today that suspected Covid-19 patients with acute medical needs and people in care homes will be prioritised under plans to ration coronavirus tests.

NHS leaders have called for health workers and patients to be given priority after government sources admitted that demand for tests is currently far outstripping supply.

The Health Secretary acknowledged that there were "operational challenges" in the testing system as he was summoned to answer an urgent question on the situation in the Commons.

Mr Hancock said an updated prioritisation list would be published setting out who will be at the front of the queue for tests.

It comes after anyone suffering symptoms, regardless of where they work or live, were urged to book tests in recent months.

"We have seen a sharp rise in people coming forward for a test, including those who are not eligible," Mr Hancock said.

"Throughout this pandemic, we have prioritised testing according to need. Over the summer, when demand was low, we were able to meet all requirements for testing, whether priorities or not.

"But as demand has risen, so we are having to prioritise once again and I do not shirk from decisions about prioritisation. They are not always comfortable, but they are important."

Acute clinical care is the top priority, with social care next on the list and currently receiving more than 100,000 tests a day.

Mr Hancock said prioritisation was "a choice that we must make".

Government sources acknowledged there was no accurate data on how many people who are not eligible for a test have tried to book one.

They said that, overall, the gap between members of the public seeking a test and being able to do a test "is not going to go away."

READ MORE: ANOTHER Reading primary school announces Covid-19 case

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told MPs that Mr Hancock was "losing control of this virus".

Mr Hancock acknowledged that it might be "a matter of weeks" before the problems are resolved.

There have been widespread complaints that tests are unavailable, people are waiting more than 24 hours for results, or are being forced to travel long distances to get a test.

But Mr Hancock told MPs that the average distance travelled to a test site is now 5.8 miles, down from 6.4 miles last week.

He told the Commons: "Everyone in this House knows that we're doing more testing per head of population than almost any other major nation, and I can update the House that we have now carried out over 20 million tests for coronavirus in this country.

"As we expand capacity further, we're working around the clock to make sure everyone who needs a test can get a test."

But he acknowledged the virus was spreading, both in the UK and around the world.