Dr Jim Gardner, the medical director at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has today asked local residents NOT to go to or contact the Hospital for a Covid-19 test.

He said, ‘You will know nationally there seems to be a problem about swabbing for coronavirus; there seems to be a shortage of swabbing capacity. This seems to link to the increase in incidences with children going back to school. It’s to be expected that coughs and colds and sniffles will increase at this time of year.’

‘But I have to say the hospital does not have the capacity to swab the general public. Covid-19 swabs can be accessed by dialling 119 or through the online system. We have facilities within the hospital to manage our own staff, but we do not have facilities to swab the general public. We have lots of calls to the hospital with people asking to come in for a swab and I’m afraid we simply cannot do that’

However, these are the messages when local residents have tried to book a test on-line:

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has issued a plea for people to stop getting tested if they didn’t have coronavirus symptoms.

He said a surge in ineligible people was putting strain on the testing system, which was by now buckling under the pressure of processing 200,000 swabs per day.

The Department of Health estimates that one in four tests are now taken by people who shouldn’t be taking them.

Dr Gardner also shared the current data that in Blackpool, there are 31 positive cases for every 100,000 residents, while in Fylde that figure is 37 and in Wyre it is 45. In Preston, which is an area of concern, the number is much higher – 121 per 100,000. Bolton had the highest infection rate in England with 204 cases per 100,000 people recorded in the week to 13 September. There are four coronavirus patients in the resort’s Victoria Hospital and one in the Clifton Hospital in St Anne’s. He also urging people to social distance at two metres, wear face coverings, and wash hands regularly.