Two new 'walk-through' coronavirus testing sites opening in Northumberland
Northumberland’s first local Covid-19 testing centres are to open from Saturday, September 19.
The sites, at the People’s Park car park in Ashington (NE63 8HP) and the Marine Terrace car park in Blyth (NE24 2LL, are semi-permanent facilities and can be accessed on foot.
Up until now, the county has been served by three mobile testing units, which can be moved around to other areas and are drive-through only.
There had been criticism nationally that not enough facilities were available for those without cars to access testing.
Difficulty accessing tests has also been in the headlines, with health chiefs urging people to only book a test if they have symptoms.
The sites and the booking process are run by the Government’s Department of Health and Social Care, and only those with coronavirus symptoms should book a test. Tests must be booked as soon as symptoms begin at nhs.uk/coronavirus
Testing at the Ashington and Blyth sites is by appointment only and will start on Saturday, September 19, when Ashington opens, with more appointments available each day. Blyth is set to open early next week.
Public-health consultant Jim Brown said: “These testing sites are purpose-built locations where people who are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 can be tested for the virus.
“These are walk-through sites which means they are accessible on foot, as opposed to by car, but we must stress appointments are still required before attending to ensure that sites have enough capacity to meet demand and prevent them from becoming overcrowded.”
Cllr Jeff Watson, the council’s cabinet member for adult health and wellbeing, added: “Local testing centres have made it even easier to get a free coronavirus test. If you have symptoms, however mild, please get tested now to help stop the spread of the virus and protect the people around you.
“Like other parts of the region we are seeing a sharp rise in cases, especially in the south east of Northumberland, and I urge anyone with symptoms to book a test today, and anyone contacted by NHS Test and Trace to follow their advice to protect those around them from the virus.”