THE number of new coronavirus cases in Warrington and across the north west is on the up, figures show.

Warrington Borough Council says the town is currently experiencing a ‘sustained, upwards trend’, and has urged residents not to visit other households in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

As a result, more people are seeking coronavirus tests to put their minds at ease, whether they are showing symptoms of Covid-19 or have been told they have been in contact with someone with the virus by NHS Test and Trace officers.

Mobile testing units have been set up in Warrington and Halton, while health chiefs are looking to meet the demand for testing with a permanent test centre in Warrington town centre.

There has also been a drive-thru testing facility at Haydock Park Racecourse since April, as well as at Liverpool John Lennon Airport and in Trafford.

But how easy is it to book a test?

Guardian readers have been outlining the difficulties they have faced in acquiring a test in the comments section of our Facebook page.

Warrington Guardian:

Last week, readers said that they had been offered a test appointment at centres in Llandudno, Sheffield, Oldham and even Glasgow, while another said they had to do a 40-mile round trip to get a test after trying for days.

And if this was not bad enough, readers this week say they have not been able to book a test anywhere, despite trying throughout the day.

We too tried to book a test but encountered the same problems. After numerous attempts on Monday and Tuesday, all we had to show was a message saying ‘this service is currently very busy’.

We were told that more tests should be available later and asked to try again in a few hours, but we were unable to book a test throughout the day.

The problems we faced, like many in the town, have been described as ‘unacceptable’ by leaders of Warrington Borough Council, who have said that they are doing all they can to escalate concerns.

Directors of public health across Cheshire and Merseyside have also expressed their deep concern over the lack of Covid-19 testing capacity and resources.

In a joint statement, they said: “We are deeply concerned that we do not have the essential tools to tackle an escalating pandemic, and are alarmed that access to testing in the sub-region is limited.

Warrington Guardian:

“Some residents are being asked to travel to other parts of the country to get a Covid-19 test and not all symptomatic residents are able to access a test.

“This poses a significant threat to the health and wellbeing of the residents of Cheshire and Merseyside.

“Directors of public health understand that there is a national issue with laboratory capacity and efforts are being made to rectify this situation over the coming weeks, but we would ask that immediate action is taken.”

In response to questions about the soaring demand for tests, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that a period of ‘prioritisation’ is needed.

An updated prioritisation list is due to set out who will be at the front of the queue for tests

"We have seen a sharp rise in people coming forward for a test, including those who are not eligible," he said.

"As demand has risen, we are having to prioritise once again, and I do not shirk from decisions about prioritisation. They are not always comfortable, but they are important."