A FATHER who had to go into self-isolation shortly after his wife gave birth has slammed the Government for not rolling out better testing facilities for coronavirus.

Martin Simpson had to take urgent steps to protect his wife Jamie and their newborn baby Ollie after his three-year-old daughter Amber started showing symptoms of the virus.

The 41-year-old from Portslade said: “My wife had gone into labour on Thursday, March 12 and our baby was born the following day.

“I went to pick up my daughter Amber who was staying with my parents in Hove and discovered she had started to show symptoms which could be the coronavirus.

“I called 111 and the hospital and the advice was for me and my daughter to go into self-isolation and for my wife and the baby to go and live somewhere else.

“I asked if we could test my daughter as at least then we would know one way or another, but I was told that as she is not a priority and as my parents were not showing symptoms, they would not offer a test.”

Martin said he had no choice but to isolate at home with his daughter while Jamie and baby Ollie moved in with his parents.

He said: “It was the only option we had, but my parents are both over 70 so there was a real worry about them getting it.

“We just feel let down.

“I cannot fault the NHS as they’ve been doing what they can but I think the Government has handled it extremely poorly.

“They’re not giving us proper reasons for not testing people.

“It’s definitely not a money issue as they’ve announced plans to help the economy.

“Although everyone is saying that testing is going to be available, we’re not seeing it happen.”

A few days after going into isolation Martin also became ill with a fever and a cough, which meant he had to extend their isolation period for another 14 days.

He spent nine hours on hold trying to get through to the NHS 111 helpline and was eventually able to speak to a doctor through a video call.

Martin said: “Without a test, no one was able to say it was definitely the coronavirus.

“I think we probably did have the virus – we both had high temperatures between 38 and 41 degrees, but then who knows – flu has different strains.

“It’s been a stressful and wearing time anyway, but especially the not knowing. For me, if we’d had one simple test all of this would have been more bearable.”

Martin’s daughter Amber has been counting down the days until today, when her mum and new baby brother can finally come home.

Martin said he was excited to see his new son but also fearful about the potential dangers.

He said: “I’ve only seen him twice, so it’s a weird one – it almost doesn’t feel like I have had a child yet.

“We’ve got to be cautious, but we don’t know by how much.

“If I knew I’d definitely had it I would feel a lot more comfortable about going out to the shops for food after we’ve come out of isolation.”

Martin also spoke of his frustrations at hearing about people flouting social distancing rules and about the wealthy individuals and celebrities who have been able to get tested.

He said: “If you have the money, you can get tested. Of course Prince Charles was.

“I don’t have anything against the royals but they are just not taking the average person into consideration.

“Throughout this crisis we’re being told to look after our mental health, but this just puts extra pressure on people.

“We also have a nurse living next door to us who has gone into isolation as she has cold symptoms, so she will now be off work.

“The NHS is losing staff who could potentially be helping to save lives.”

It comes after the news on Friday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock had both tested positive for Covid-19.

The Government has said it wants to increase the number of people being tested for the disease from about 6,000 people per day up to 25,000 people per day by mid-April.

Currently only hospital patients with flu-like symptoms have been routinely tested for the virus.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said although scientists are developing new testing kits to show whether someone has already had the virus, they will not be available “immediately”, but only once proven to be effective.

  • The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. org.uk/apply. To donate visit www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/sussexcrisisfund