Key worker sent from Surrey to Isle of Wight for Covid-19 test

A KEY worker from Farnham in Surrey took a 100-mile round trip to the Isle of Wight for a coronavirus test — and was ‘forced to mix’ with other passengers on the ferry.

Martin Baker, a technical trainer who lives 50 miles away from the Island, said he developed a cough and fever on Tuesday morning and described the testing system as a “mockery”.

As previously reported, the NHS Covid-19 app has been sending residents in Hampshire and Surrey to the Isle of Wight test centre – while directing Islanders to take the same trip in the opposite direction.

Mr Baker, 49, drove to his workplace in Southampton to pick up key items from a distance so he could isolate and continue his job from home, while also knowing there was a new test centre “200m away”.

But the NHS Covid-19 app told him the nearest site where tests were available was on the Island.

The Department of Health has since confirmed the app directs users to test centres using their home postcode, not their current location – though the Southampton Airport test centre is located between Mr Baker’s hometown and the Isle of Wight.

Read more: Travelling from Lewes in Sussex to Isle of Wight for a test

Mr Baker said: “Despite being within visual distance of the test centre in Southampton, I was directed to go to the Isle of Wight.

“So of course, even though it’s a free test, I still got lifted with nearly £100 in ferry fees for the same-day return.”

Mr Baker added that he was forced to mix with other passengers on the ferry’s deck because they were not allowed to stay in their cars during the 45-minute journey.

He described the system as an “absolute shambles”, adding he spent the journey attempting to stay as far away from other people as possible.

Read more: Ferry firms say 48 hours’ notice is needed to arrange a stay-in-car crossing, if you are travelling across The Solent with Covid-19 symptoms.

He said: “The surprising bit for me, was when I got to the test centre, there were two other cars in there, both of which had come over on the same ferry as me, so I wasn’t the only one coming over from the mainland.

“The woman at the testing site asked how far I’d come from, and told me she knew two people that day that were going from the Island over to the mainland to have their tests done on the same day, while there’s three cars going the other way.”

Read more: Nearest test is Fawley, Islander told

The Department of Health has been contacted for a comment.

Isle of Wight County Press | News