A NORTH-EAST council has explained why it is no longer offering symptom-free coronavirus tests to residents.

Residents in Sunderland and Washington claimed that they had been greeted with "no appointments available" when trying to book a test over the weekend.

The tests, which use Lateral Flow Devices and can produce results in around 20 minutes, have been taking place at Washington Millennium Centre in Concord since Christmas.

But Sunderland City Council, which was among the first councils to roll out symptom-free testing in the country, has confirmed the programme has now stopped.

Gerry Taylor, Executive Director of Public Health and Integrated Commissioning, said the Washington site had been set up as a trial, which had now come to an end

In a statement, he said: "The temporary Washington site was set up as a trial for symptom free testing before Christmas and is therefore no longer in operation.

"The trial was very helpful in terms of understanding setting up and carrying out asymptomatic testing and we learned a lot which will help inform our approach going forwards."