Coronavirus: Test centres across UK hotspot appear virtually empty

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Martha Fairlie

Testing centres across one of the UK's coronavirus hotspots appear to be well below capacity, new aerial footage has shown.

Helicopter footage shot at various test centres, including in Liverpool, Manchester, Bolton and other locations, show only a handful of vehicles pulling into the drive-by test centres.

ITV News has seen aerial footage from 15 sites in the north west, with many appearing empty or only a handful of cars at the site.

Among the sites seen by ITV News include:

  • Abraham Moss

  • Manchester City's Etihad stadium

  • Moss side

  • Stockport 

  • Oldham Southgate 

  • Oldham Peel street

  • Rochdale

  • Holmfirith

  • Dewsbury

  • Batley

  • Keighley

  • Bolton

  • Haydock 

  • Knowsley 

  • John Lennon airport

Staff in high visibility jackets chat amongst each other at one test site.

But it comes as the UK recorded 4,422 new positive cases on Saturday, hitting a four-month high for the second day in a row.

The government is under pressure after many people reported problems in being able to get a coronavirus test, while others were advised to travel hundreds of miles to the nearest facility to get tested.

Aerial footage of the Moss Side test centre in Manchester.
Knowsley's testing site was also virtually empty.

Boris Johnson has admitted there is not enough testing capacity after demand "massively accelerated" in recent weeks.

The prime minister has promised to increase testing capacity in the UK to 500,000 by the end of October.

But latest figures show the country only has a testing capacity of 253,521, with 233,199 tests processed on Saturday.

A spokesperson for the Department of Heath and Social Care said it was working hard to meet a "spike in demand" by expanding lab capacity. In a statement they said:

"NHS Test and Trace is providing tests at an unprecedented scale – 225,000 a day on average over the last week – with the vast majority of people getting tested within 6 miles of their home.

"There has been a spike in demand in recent weeks and the message is clear – only people with symptoms should be requesting a test."

The statement continued: "We’re doing everything possible to overcome this challenge – including by bringing in new labs that can process tens of thousands of tests a day, opening new test sites, and trialling new rapid tests that will give results on the spot.

"As we expand capacity further, we will continue to work around the clock to make sure that everyone who needs a test can get one."