Securing a slot for a coronavirus (COVID-19) test is no easy task.
According to the latest government figures released last week, around 220,000 tests are processed each day, with a testing capacity of more than 350,000 – which includes swab tests and antibody tests – and the aim is to increase that to 500,000 a day by the end of October.
This isn’t quite the case at the moment though however.
An increase in demand for tests over the past few weeks has led to local shortages – particularly in Greater Manchester – with some people being directed to test sites hundreds of miles from their homes.
Addressing the situation in the House of Commons, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the system is facing an “enormous challenge” after a “sharp rise” in those seeking a test. He admitted that there were a number of current “operational challenges” with the testing process, which the government was “working hard” to fix.
He continued: “I don’t deny that it is an enormous challenge and when you have a free service it’s inevitable that demand rises.
“The challenge is to make sure that we prioritise the tests we have as a nation to those who most need it.”
Here at The Manc, we always want to hear the viewpoints and experiences of our audience.
After observing the ongoing nationwide conversation around the difficulty many are experiencing in securing slots for coronavirus (COVID-19) tests, we were keen to take a more regional look and find out how Greater Manchester residents have found the process, so we took to Twitter this morning to ask: Has anyone in Greater Manchester struggled to get a coronavirus test?
How’s the process been in general?
In response to our question, we received a range of responses from residents across the region detailing their own personal experiences, particularly with relation to the online booking system and how easy it is to use, booking tests over the phone, the range of slots available and of course, the location of testing centres.
Overall, the responses were mixed, although it is fair to say that the majority did seem to indicate some level of dissatisfaction with the process.
In the words of one response, it’s “stressful”.
While it is hard to disguise the dissatisfaction expressed by many, it’s not all doom and gloom as we did receive a few replies reporting positive experiences with the booking system.
One resident even offered a few top tips for others when booking a test locally and indicated that the key may be to simply keep refreshing the page.
Interested in checking out the rest of the responses?
Keen to have your say?
We unfortunately were not able to include every reply to our question in this article, but there’s still time to chip in, so make sure you head on over to @TheMancUK to read the other responses, leave your thoughts and discuss with other Mancunians in the same or different positions to you.
For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.
Unexpected Manchester city centre street named ‘one of the most polluted’ in the UK
A new fieldwork study has revealed the worst air polluted city centre streets in the UK, and a popular Manchester thoroughfare has been named one of the worst.
Except, it’s really not the street you’d expect it to be.
For some bizarre reason, despite the fact it’s a pedestrianised commercial shopping street in the heart of Manchester city centre, Market Street has been named one of the most polluted streets in the country.
Recordings were taken at high streets in the 25 largest towns and cities in the country over a two-week period, and the results found that 76% are exceeding the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended annual level of air pollution, The Hoot reports.
The study enlisted a planning consultancy to collect samples using an air quality monitoring device at 11am on either a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday to ensure as much comparability as possible between the locations.
The study comes after a poll of 2,000 adults found that 36% have concerns over the health of the community due to air pollution, or the health of their family (26%) or themselves (25%).
Speaking on the shocking findings from the new study, Sam Clarke, who is the chief vehicle officer at the sustainable energy business, said: “With millions set to hit the high street this festive period, we wanted to look at the state of the nation’s air quality in the locations people will be doing most of their Christmas shopping.
“It’s shocking to see that so many were above the World Health Organisation’s annual recommendations for air pollution, and that one in 10 shoppers are even planning on foregoing the highstreets altogether due to air quality.”
20 streets in the UK were over the recommended World Health Organisation recommended levels of 5 µg/m3).
The Most-Polluted Streets in the UK
Stoke-On-Trent (Parliament Street) – 11.7
Newcastle (Northumberland Street) – 11.5
Leicester (Gallowtree Gate) – 11.2
Coventry (West Orchards Way) – 11.1
Hull (Jameston Street) – 10.7
Bradford (Broadway) – 10.6
Southampton (Above Bar Street) – 8.8
Nottingham (High Street) – 7.7
Luton (George Street) – 7.6
Manchester (Market Street) – 7.6
Northampton (Abington Street) – 7.3
Birmingham New Street – 7.3
Liverpool (Church Street) – 7.1
Derby (St Peter’s Street) – 6.9
London (Oxford Street) – 6.8
Sheffield (Fargate) – 6.3
Brighton (Western Road) – 5.6
Leeds (Briggate) – 5.3
Portsmouth (Commercial Road) – 5.1
“If we’re to reach the World Health Organisation’s annual target of 5 µg/m3 of PM2.5 in our air, collectively we need to change our behaviours,” Sam Clarke added.
“With vehicle emissions being a key contributor, anything we can do to travel more greenly, from walking more to cycling, and including electric vehicles, is a very valuable set forward to improve the air we breathe daily.”
Although born in London to Irish parents, she moved to Manchester at the age of two, was raised in Wythenshawe, went to school in West Didsbury, and kick-started her illustrious and hugely-influential career on the city’s comedy circuit by performing as a collection of characters, all before developing the iconic ‘Mrs Merton’.
Aherne developed her Mrs Merton character with Frank Sidebottom for his show on Piccadilly Radio, where she worked as a receptionist.
She made a number of television appearances as the hilarious character, before rising to prominence in 1994 with the mock chat show The Mrs Merton Show, where she was known for asking celebrity guests a series of outrageous fake questions – the most-memorable example being to the wife of magician Paul Daniels, Debbie McGee, asking: “So, what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”.
Aside from the Mrs Merton character, Aherne was known for appearing on BBC comedy sketch programme, The Fast Show, and then cemented her place in the heart of us Mancunians when she co-wrote and starred as Denise in beloved Manchester-based sitcom, The Royle Family.
The Royle Family ran for three series from 1998 to 2000, and was a largely stereotypical portrayal of working-class family life at the turn of the millennium, with almost all of the episodes taking place in the Royles’ telly-centric living room and showing the hilarious conversations they’d have.
Both before and after her sad death in July 2016, Caroline amassed a loyal fanbase, so it’s only right that we properly celebrate her legacy, right? Well that’s exactly what BBC Two is doing this ChristmasDay from 9pm, with the airing of a brand-new TV special, as well as lots of other programmes dedicated to the late legend and all she is loved for.
The 80-minute documentary is described by the BBC as being a “celebration of the unique life and talent of Caroline Aherne”.
Titled Caroline Aherne: Queen of Comedy, it will feature unseen photographs and contributions from a cast of her lifelong friends – including Steve Coogan, Jon Thompson, Craig Cash, and producer Andy Harries.
Caroline Aherne: Queen of Comedy will air on BBC Two at 10:25pm on Christmas Day (25 December), and will be available to stream on BBC iPlayer shortly after.
This new TV special also follows BBC Two’s re-run of The Royle Family’s classic Christmas episode – which is titled ‘Christmas With The Royle Family’, and first aired back in December 1999 – a little earlier in the evening at 9:15pm.
It’ll also be on after a 15-minute long moment of reflection from Ricky Tomlinson at 9pm too.
According to the BBC, Ricky – who, of course, is most famous for his role as the Royle Family’s patriarch, Jim Royle – will sit back in his iconic chair and take a fond look back at the much-loved comedy series, sharing his memories and experiences working with Caroline Aherne.