A TESTING mix-up led to scores of workers at an Amazon warehouse in the North-East being sent home and told to self-isolate.

The workers at Amazon Durham, near Bowburn, wrongly received positive test results on Saturday after being tested for Covid on the site earlier in the week.

The Northern Echo was told by workers that around 100 colleagues from across the warehouse had been informed via the NHS Test and Trace service that they had tested positive for the virus.

But it was not until several hours later that the NHS sent updated text messages and emails confirming that they had in fact tested negative.

The online retailer has since confirmed that none of its staff members had actually tested positive during the mix-up.

One worker said the mix-up had caused disruption to operations across the Fulfilment Centre as a “considerable” number of its workforce had been sent home.

They said that staff had been told to self-isolate in line with Government guidance, while affected workstations across different departments were reportedly shut down and cordoned off.

The site, which is located at the Integra 61 Industrial Estate and employs around 1,000 full and part-time staff, offers workers a voluntary test once per week.

The Northern Echo: The Covid test facility at Amazon Durham 'MME2' Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTThe Covid test facility at Amazon Durham 'MME2' Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Results are then sent and analysed by NHS laboratories with results processed in the same way as tests are in the community.

After the mix-up, which is believed to have been caused by a “system error” between the NHS Test and Trace and Amazon, workers were told they no longer needed to self-isolate. 

In response, Amazon confirmed the error while saying the situation had been resolved quickly.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We’ve communicated with our associates and partners to support them with the appropriate action steps, as instructed by the NHS.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “NHS Test and Trace has the capacity to process over 700,000 tests a day from more than 800 test centres and mobile units, with the vast majority of people reporting no issues with the process.

“On Saturday, some Amazon staff members who tested negative for Covid-19 received notifications from NHS Test and Trace to say they have tested positive and asking them to self-isolate.

"Working closely with Amazon, NHS Test and Trace rapidly notified affected employees to let them know they did not need to isolate.”