A number of Salisbury residents who have been trying to book a coronavirus test have been asked to travel as far away as Scotland, the Journal understands.

Following the recent rise in Covid-19 cases, both locally and nationally, residents in the city who have developed coronavirus symptoms have been attempting to book a test.

However, for some, the process looks far from straightforward as, in some cases, people have been offered slots more than 500 miles away.

Hayley Ferguson, whose 20-year-old son lives in Salisbury, says he is struggling to book a test locally after turning down a place in Aberdeen.

She said: "My son only rides a motorbike so asked my other son, his brother, to take him to a drive-through test centre as there were no walk-in options available. But when it came up to head up north to Aberdeen he basically said [there is] absolutely no way he is heading up there for a test."

"It's the same in Cambridge where my friend lives, she was told to head to the same place... it's bonkers!," she added.

Salisbury Journal:

Resident Abi Durham faces a similar situation as, since refusing to travel to Aberdeen, no drive-through or walk-in tests are coming up as available on the system.

Abbey Lock, who has been trying to book a test for her daughter, said: "[I've] been trying to book a test since last night (Wednesday September 9) but the only available was miles away.

"Then when the local one came up by the time I logged in it was all gone so [it] means more time off work and my daughter off school until she can get tested.

"The government knew with schools returning, more tests would be needed yet they haven't prepared at all causing people to wait a long time for tests or having to travel miles with poorly kids."

While a number of people managed to get tested at the Beehive park and ride, others said they had to make longer journeys, to places such as Bridport in Dorset or even Wales.

Another resident said she was able to get tested at a drive-through testing centre in Trowbridge by simply turning up.

Today, in a speech made in the House of Commons, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said only those with Covid symptoms or who have been asked to get tested should apply for a test.

He said: "The average distance travelled to a test site is 6.4 miles and 90 per cent of people who book a test travel 22 miles or less.

"We already have more than 400 testing sites in operation – we added 19 last week and plan 17 more this week.

"However, as capacity has increased, we have seen an even faster rise in demand, including a significant increase from people who do not have symptoms and are not eligible for a test. This takes tests away from people who need them.

"So, if you have symptoms of coronavirus, or are asked by a clinician or local authority to get a test, then please apply.

"But if you do not have symptoms and haven’t been asked, then you are not eligible for a test."

A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care said: "NHS Test and Trace is working and our capacity is the highest it has ever been but we are seeing a significant demand for tests including from people who do not have symptoms and are not otherwise eligible.

“New booking slots and home testing kits are made available daily for those who need them and we are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, and prioritising at-risk groups.

“Our laboratories are processing more than a million tests a week and we recently announced new facilities and technology to process results even faster. If you do not have symptoms and are not eligible to get a test you can continue to protect yourself if you wash your hands, wear a face covering and follow social distancing rules.”