The UK’s largest testing lab has been hit by a corona virus outbreak after a worker claimed to have repeatedly violated COVID safety rules, Sky News learned.
Positive cases have been reported in three of the four scientific teams at the Milton Keynes Lighthouse, as well as to the management and warehouse staff at the site.
It is not known how many people were affected by the explosion, but a lab worker asked to be anonymous as about 20 people are currently isolated in a 70-member laboratory team.
The eruption has put considerable pressure on the laboratory, which has been asked to carry out 70,000 tests a day to sustain the growing demand.
The source said 47,000 were processed on Tuesday: “We will not reach 70,000 a day on the way.”
The lab worker also raised concerns about the safety of the lab, saying it violates rules to keep staff safe to achieve goals – the Department of Health and Social Security has refused.
Following a recommendation from a health and safety administrator who visited the site recently, Sky News understands that there should be a bubble system in the lighthouse lab to keep staff separate.
Nevertheless, according to the sources, the bubble structure is not respected as it is moved between groups in a narrow staff laboratory and can cause cross-contamination.
Laboratory staff said it was mixed in the building’s lobbies and canteen.
Staff in the lab are given unlimited tests and are tested when new staff arrives.
The lab worker said the newcomers were sitting in the canteen waiting for their test results.
According to the lab worker, a new warehouse staff received a positive test result after a whole lab team sat in their canteen during a break.
“The whole thing is a joke,” they said.
In October, it was revealed that the health and safety administrator had discovered five separate “material violations” of the Health and Safety Act at the Milton Keynes Laboratory, following reports by whistleblower Dr. Julian Harris that the lab was being accused of “chaotic and dangerous” work practices. .
Employees at Lighthouse Labs have left Christmas to work 12-hour shifts at a source described as “constrained working conditions” at the Milton Keynes Laboratory, based in the UK Biocentre.
The center was transformed into the UK’s largest laboratory in April, capable of processing tens of thousands of tests a day.
The Lighthouse Lab system has been criticized for dramatically increasing UK testing capacity, but not adequately integrated with the rest of healthcare services.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Security confirmed that they were aware of the lighthouse exploding, but insisted that all government guidelines on COVID-safe work practices were followed.
“The NHS test and trace is constantly testing the number of people, and if they have symptoms and need a test, people may have confidence that they can get one,” they said.
“We offer an unprecedented number of tests – more than 450,000 yesterday alone – and our focus is to ensure that anyone with symptoms can receive a test during periods of high demand.
“All of our testing sites and our home testing service are normally available for bookings during the Christmas season.”