Questions as British PM and Prince Charles get coronavirus tests while doctors do not

LONDON – When this week it turned out that the British Prime Minister, Minister of Health and Heir to the Throne had all tested positive for the coronavirus after showing mild symptoms, mixed with the supportive messages wishing them a speedy recovery, those that came up with uncomfortable questions posed.

“How were you tested when thousands couldn’t?” A Twitter user replied to the news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for COVID-19, the coronavirus disease, on Friday and isolated himself in London.

“Where do the test kits for Prince Charles and Boris Johnson come from?” Another asked before pointing out that medical staff at the beloved UK National Health Service had difficulty testing.

Two days after Charles announced that he tested positive, Johnson confirmed on Friday that he was suffering from “mild symptoms” after being tested on the advice of British Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.

British Minister of Health Matt Hancock also confirmed that he had tested positive for the virus a few hours later. He had said earlier in the week that the UK had bought 3.5 million antibody test kits and made sure they worked before distributing them.

It remains unclear in which order of priority they are distributed.

Not all frontline doctors are tested. This is an important concern for health workers who are at risk of infecting their patients and families. Others worry that if they can treat the sick, they will remain at home inappropriately.

The lack of clarity in test kits has become an increasing source of public criticism of the government’s response to the pandemic.

When asked on Thursday why Charles could be tested while others had not, Health Secretary Edward Argar told UK broadcaster Sky News that the heir to the symptoms and condition of the British throne “met the criteria”.

“There is clearly more to do and we are stepping up our testing efforts … and of course key workers, NHS are at the forefront and social workers are at the forefront,” he said, using the British word for line.

Sky News and NBC News are both owned by Comcast.

The UK Department of Health and Social Affairs emailed Friday to NBC News that it had tested more than 97,000 people – one of the highest in Europe – and had already made plans to increase testing capacity to 25,000 people per day.

When news came that Johnson was infected with the virus, “#prayforboris” and “#Hestheprimeminister” were trending on Twitter in the UK, and many said it was only sensible that such a high-profile figure had been tested.

“Nobody with a brain has a problem with Boris or government ministers being tested immediately,” said the television host Piers Morgan tweeted and added, “but everyone should have a massive problem with the NHS front line still not being tested because they risk their lives.”

Not only in the UK, this apparent inequality in coronavirus testing is highlighted.

Celebrities from the actor Idris Elba to the “Game of Thrones” star Kristofer Hivju have both confirmed that they have been tested. Both tested positive.

“Tests shouldn’t be for the rich, but for the sick,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted last week in response to news that some Brooklyn Nets players Those who showed no symptoms were among an unknown number of team members who were tested on COVID-19.

Four tested positive, including three players who were asymptomatic, the team said.

When asked last week whether well-connected people should head the test line, President Donald Trump replied, “No, I wouldn’t say that. But maybe that’s the story of life.”

Earlier this month, Trump was also tested and found negative for the virus.

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