HEREFORDSHIRE residents have been offered coronavirus tests almost 100 miles away, despite a mobile centre in Hereford city centre.

Current advice from the Government says anyone with coronavirus symptoms should self-isolate and book a test via its website, but one woman from Ross-on-Wye has said this can take several hours – to then find out the booking hasn’t been confirmed.

One Ross-on-Wye parent who tried to book a test had been asked to drive to Aberystwyth in mid-Wales – a five-hour round trip.

Mark Robinson was left frustrated with the lack of tests available locally, including the centres at Gloucester and Hereford’s Merton Meadow car park.

Mr Robinson, 61, first tried to book a test on Sunday after his teenage son developed a cough, which he thinks is due to a common cold, but he cannot go back to school until the self-isolation period is over, or can show teachers a negative result.

The only slot he has been offered so far was in Aberystwyth, but did not want to make the 94-mile trip from Ross-on-Wye.

“It’s highlighting that if you really do think you have Covid you’re going to have a problem getting a test,” he said.

“We’re not only concerned about our son, but we’re trying to make an appointment just to be sure. It’s only going to get worse because the schools are back and winter is coming.

“We’ve been told to keep him off [school] for 10 days, unless you’ve got a negative test, but we can’t get a test at the moment.”

Another Ross resident Pip Drake-Lee said she developed a dry cough, one of the three main symptoms of Covid-19 listed on the NHS website, as well as a sore throat and runny nose.

She said it took 45 minutes to book a test on Monday, first having to refresh the website several times to find nearby testing centres, to the discover her 3.30pm slot at Cinderford, in the Forest of Dean, had not been confirmed.

It appeared no tests were available when the Hereford Times looked on the Government website at 4pm on Monday.

In previous days there had been slots available – but on September 8 at midnight, the only drive-through test site which showed as having availability was in Glenfield, Leicestershire.

“After an hour I got concerned that I still hadn’t received a confirmation email or text,” Pip Drake-Lee, 41, said.

“I phoned 119 and, after staying on hold for 40 minutes, got through to someone who told me they were aware there had been a major technical issue with their website this morning with some booking confirmation messages not being sent out and that others had been calling in with the same problem.

“He was not able to confirm my booking over the phone and said the only option was to go back into the booking system and try and rebook another test. Back to square one. Thoroughly frustrating.”

It's not clear if the capacity at the mobile testing centre at Hereford's Merton Meadow car park is still 150, as it was shortly after opening at the end of April.

It's not clear if a backlog in laboratories processing tests is to blame or a shortage of kits, but, on Tuesday, the health secretary admitted coronavirus tests in England will soon be rationed.

It's as the Government struggles to get to grips with what they say is soaring demand amid warnings that the country faces a tough six months in the battle with Covid-19.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there would be “prioritisation” of tests for people with acute clinical need and those in social care settings as he acknowledged “operational challenges” in the system.

He faced a barrage of complaints in the Commons about people being forced to travel long distances or even enter false addresses in the hope of securing a test.

NHS leaders have called for health workers and patients to be prioritised after Government sources admitted demand for tests is far outstripping supply.

Mr Hancock said a new prioritisation list would set out who will be at the front of the queue.