London councils have called on the Government to boost coronavirus testing capacity after Boris Johnson announced new national rules to curb infections.

Residents across the city have faced long waits, limited availability, or been directed as far afield as Inverness for a Covid-19 test.

It comes with the NHS test and trace app – currently being trialled in Newham and on the Isle of Wight – launches nationally today.

But existing contact tracing is already struggling in London, with huge variation between the boroughs.

Lambeth is faring best, reaching 70 per cent of people who’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

But East London tracers are doing substantially worse: in Hackney and the City of London, just 51 per cent of affected people are contacted and told to self-isolate, according to the latest Department of Health figures.

And Newham (55 per cent), Waltham Forest (56 per cent), Redbridge (57 per cent), Barking and Dagenham (58 per cent) and Tower Hamlets (59 per cent) are doing little better.

Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville told the Local Democracy Service test and trace “should have been local by default from the start” because council staff know their communities.

Cllr Glanville (Lab) said boroughs like Hackney struggle because of poor acces to technology and language barriers for some residents.

“We’ve got communities that are quite insular like the Haredi Jewish community, and we’ve also got people that innately mistrust sharing their data with an authority,” he explained.

Coronavirus rates dropped in all but five London boroughs this week, with Waltham Forest the only council area to see a significant increase, from 53 to 73 cases.

But with testing capacity under pressure, leaders fear infections are rising undetected.

Former Southwark Council leader Peter John – who chairs London Councils, the group representing all 33 local authorities in the city – said there was clearly a “rising tide” of cases.

“The enhanced national restrictions from Government are welcome and are designed to have an impact on the spread of the virus in the capital,” he said.

“But these restrictions must come hand in hand with access to testing when Londoners need it.”

Cllr John (Lab) said it was “deeply worrying” that tests are not available when residents need them.

“We know that Londoners are frustrated by problems accessing testing, but we urge them to follow the guidance and remain self-isolated if they have Covid symptoms,” he added.