Durham’s second Covid test centre to open, at County Hall

A CITY’S second coronavirus testing centre is set to open later this week.

The facility will be located in the car park at County Hall, at Aykley Heads, Durham, and will provide appointments seven days a week, from 8am to 8pm. Unlike mobile testing venues, which visit different sites across the county, the new centre will remain on site for at least three months.

The predominantly pedestrian site is being set up by the Department of Health and Social Care as part of its UK-wide drive to increase testing.

It follows the launch of a similar site at Territorial Lane in the Elvet area of the city in September, and three further centres are planned to open across the county in the coming months.

Testing is due to start on Thursday, with the facility fully operational by next Sunday, November 22, when it will be able to test up to 24 people per hour.

It is intended to provide easy access to testing, particularly for people living in the north of the city who do not have a car and are able to walk to County Hall.

Preparation work will start tomorrow and Durham County Council has written to nearby householders and businesses to keep them informed.

Although there may be some disruption for residents and businesses while the site is built, every effort will be made to minimise this.

Councillor Lucy Hovvels, the council’s cabinet member for adult and health services, said: “Access to prompt testing is key to controlling and containing the spread of coronavirus while we wait for the national vaccination programme to be introduced and take effect.

“We’ve got mobile testing units working across the county each day, but the provision of another fixed local testing site will significantly improve our testing capacity and will also provide improved accessibility for residents in our largest population centre who do not have access to a car.

“It’s vital we all do our bit to prevent coronavirus spreading and if you are experiencing symptoms, I would urge you to book a test as soon as possible.

“It’s also incredibly important that we continue to abide by the latest local and national restrictions, following public health guidance in terms of social distancing, face coverings and handwashing.”

Testing is available for those either with coronavirus symptoms, a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense or taste, or those who have been asked to get tested by a doctor or public health professional.

Appointments should be booked through the national Covid-19 booking system at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.

Testing is available seven days a week and there will be additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.

People without these symptoms should not seek a test unless they have been specifically advised to do so.

Anyone attending an appointment at the new centre will be advised how to get to and from the test site safely without putting others at risk, as well as the public health measures they need to follow. This includes social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, practising good personal hygiene and wearing a face covering throughout, including when travelling to and from the testing centre.

For information and advice about coronavirus and the support available, visit www.durham.gov.uk/coronavirus.

The Northern Echo | Durham