THE leader of Bury Council has said he is deeply concerned by failures in the coronavirus testing system as he sent a strong message to the government to 'get to grips' with the issue.

In recent days many residents have faced the chaos of an up hill battle and a long wait to get tested ­— while Covid-19 cases have continued to increase in the borough.

New test centres have opened this week but they are already struggling to cope and have been 'overwhelmed' with demand.

Snaking queues and waits of several hours have become common place outside the sites at The Mosses and Chesham Fold.

Other patients who have managed to get tested have been forced to wait five or six days for results.

Councillor Eamonn O'Brien, Bury's Council Leader, said the issues being experience in Bury are being caused by a ‘fundamental lack of availability in the national system’.

"So many sites are not able to get adequate testing in the right quantities to meet current demand," he added.

"On top of that there are clear issues in the labs where test results are not being confirmed one way or the other quickly enough."

These problems are not just creating a problem for the present, but will have knock on effects for testing in the longer term, Cllr O'Brien suggested.

"If we are not testing we are not finding the people who have the virus and those who don't and can go back to work," he said.

"This starts to create even more pressure in an already over pressured system."

Part of the problem in Bury also stems from too many people with no symptoms turning up at the new walk-in coronavirus testing centres, health bosses have said.

To ensure tests are available to those who really need them residents are being urged to only request a test if they have symptoms of coronavirus — such as a high temperature, new continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste.

Cllr Andrea Simpson, health cabinet member, previously said: “It’s really important that only people who have symptoms turn up at the centres.

"If you don’t have symptoms, please don’t request a test; this creates a bottleneck in our already pressured system and unnecessary delays for people that really need one.”

In the short term, Cllr O'Brien said that the council's priority is to ensure as many tests as are needed are available, especially to the highest risk areas and groups ­— such as key workers.

He added: "In the longer run the Government needs to get to grips with testing capacity.

"It's not enough to say there's capacity in the system if it's not where it's needed.

"There needs to be a rethink around where the capacity is."