Approval of government's handling of coronavirus pandemic falls to record low

Connor Parker
·4 min read
One of the major problems the government has faced in recent weeks is being unable to meet a huge surge in demand for coronavirus tests. (PA)
One of the major problems the government has faced in recent weeks is being unable to meet a huge surge in demand for coronavirus tests. (PA)

The number of people who say the government is doing well at handling the coronavirus pandemic has fallen to a record low.

The new figures show attitudes have fallen to an all-time low with only 30% of people believing the government is handling the pandemic well.

Some 63% of people said the government is doing badly, with the rest saying they don’t know.

The data also marks a significant drop in net approval of the government’s handling of the crisis since last week.

The net score view on how well the government is doing is -33, compared to -18 last week – which is substantially worse than the previous low of -21 which was recorded in mid-August.

YouGov has been tracking the population’s attitude towards how the government has handled the pandemic, publishing updates every week.

Chris Curtis, of YouGov, told the BBC: “The figures out this morning our the worst numbers for the government yet.

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“Twice as many people think the government is doing badly than well so it’s not been a good week for the government.”

He added: “I think this argument around testing and the coverage in the press and TV off the back of that is the main reason for that drop.”

There has been a huge increase in demand for testing, which the government has been struggling to keep up with.

Only a third of people who went to a coronavirus community testing centre got their results within 24 hours last week. (PA)
Only a third of people who went to a coronavirus community testing centre got their results within 24 hours last week. (PA)

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One of the key issues is around lab capacity, which is currently unable to process all of the tests that are coming in.

Figures released on Thursday showed the number of people getting the results of their tests within 24 hours after taking it at a community centre had plummeted to one in three.

This was down from two in three the week before.

The swabs used in the test don’t last forever, so if the lab is still processing the previous day’s tests then there’s little point in making more available.

There have been reports of people being told to travel 100’s of miles to get a test due to no appointments being available in their area.

Read more: We're losing track of COVID spread because of testing failures, says scientist

The government has come under increasing pressure from all angles to address the situation.

Labour has been attacking their slow response with MPs from all political parties raising concerns from their constituents about their struggles to get hold of a test.

Health secretary Matt Hancock admitted on Tuesday there were problems with the testing system following a sharp increase in demand.

He told the Commons on Thursday the government would solve the problems with lab capacity in a “matter of weeks.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock makes a statement on Covid-19 in the House of Commons, London, confirming local lockdown restrictions will be introduced in Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham.
Matt Hancock has admitted there were problems with capacity in the testing system. (PA)

The government again missed its test and trace target of 80% this week when it revealed only 73.9% of people were reached - a slight increase from the week before.

The surge in demand is being matched by a sharp uptick in cases in recent weeks, the daily average hovering around 3,000 over the past few days, when it was around 1,700 two weeks ago.

YouGov found 70% of Britons think the coronavirus situation in the UK is getting worse, up from 54% last week.

New figures released on Thursday show there has been a 75% increase in coronavirus cases in England in the last seven days.

A total of 18,371 new people tested positive for COVID-19 in England in the week to 9 September.

This is a huge increase from the 9,864 figure in the previous week, the highest weekly number since test and trace was launched at the end of May.

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