Dozens of drivers showed up at a coronavirus test centre in a city under local lockdown only to find there were no staff there to swab them.

It came on the day the Government announced tougher coronavirus restrictions for nearly two million people in the North East.

The restrictions ban people from meeting other households, and restaurants and pubs will have to shut at 10pm.

It was left to the media to inform people who had booked a test at Doxford Park, in Sunderland, that they would not be tested as there were no officials there to let them know.




Some were turned away by security guards who told them the computers had crashed and to try again later.

Other drivers continued to turn up while others sat bemused in the car park working out what to do next.

Mechanic Brad Cockburn, 28, made a 100-mile round trip from North Yorkshire to find there were no testing staff.

He said: ‘There’s no organisation, it’s piss-poor performance as usual.’

Rob Reid, 58, from Sunderland, was similarly left in the dark after booking a test for 3.45pm.

He said: ‘It annoys me. My concern is about my health and it comes across that the Government is not that concerned, when they are taking bookings on the NHS website and there’s nobody here to do it.’

England’s coronavirus testing network has faltered over the past two weeks, with widespread reports of people unable to order a test or being forced to travel long distances to get one.

Boris Johnson finally admitted on Wednesday the UK did not have enough coronavirus testing capacity to meet the surge in demand.

Ministers said it could take up to two weeks to clear the backlog at testing labs.

The new local lockdown measures came into force in parts of the North East at midnight.

The leaders of seven local councils had previously written to the Government asking for additional measures to be put in place.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘We’ve seen concerning rates of infection in parts of the North East.

‘Sunderland, for example, now has an incidence rate of 103 positive cases per 100,000 population.

‘And in South Tyneside, Gateshead and Newcastle, figures are all above 70.’

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