NORTH Essex residents are being urged not to call their doctor or visit their hospital's emergency department if they want a coronavirus test.

That is the message from NHS staff who have highlighted a large increase in call volumes, with some GP practices across north east Essex reporting one in five phone calls relate to Covid-19 testing.

Instead, tests should be booked via the Government website or the NHS 119 dedicated helpline.

Belinda White, regional manager at Care UK which operates the 111 service across north east Essex and Suffolk, said: “As always the 111 service is here 24/7 for all urgent medical help and advice. What we cannot do is book Covid-19 tests.

“We understand it must be so frustrating for patients who have to sit in a call waiting line to have their query answered only to be told that they have come through to the wrong service so please dial 119 for test help.

“By dialing 119 for tests you are helping us to ensure we can support those with medical issues promptly at this time of increased pressure.”

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get a test.

Coronavirus symptoms are:

• a high temperature

• a new, continuous cough

•a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

To book a test visit,