Coronavirus testing centre to open in Durham City
The first of a new kind of coronavirus testing centre is opening in County Durham next month.
As part of the Government's drive to increase coronavirus testing, the Department of Health and Social Care is setting up a facility in Territorial Lane car park in Durham City.
When the centre opens on Thursday 8 October, appointments will be available from 8am to 8pm, seven days per week, and unlike mobile testing units which visit sites across the county, the new facility will stay in the same location. Also, by locating it in the city centre, it will help to improve access to testing, especially for those who do not have a car and cannot travel to out of town mobile testing sites. The centre will be pedestrian access only and will feature better accommodation and shelter for those being tested.
Appointments must be booked through the national Covid-19 booking system on the NHS Coronavirus information website or by calling 119. Results will be provided the next day and there will be additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.
Preparation of the site will be taking place over the next few days and the council and Durham University, which owns the car park, have written to residents to inform them. There may be some local disruption while the build takes place, but every effort will be made by the operators to minimise any potential disruption for nearby residents and businesses.
While the new testing centre is being built, the mobile testing unit which visits Belmont Park and Ride has been relocated to Durham University's Howlands car park on the outskirts of Durham City on certain days of the week.
Prompt testing is key
Councillor Lucy Hovvels, our Cabinet member for adult and health services, said: "Like other parts of the North East, we have seen a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks and prompt testing is key to containing the spread of the virus.
"This new testing centre will not only increase capacity but also improve accessibility for those who do not have a car. And the more people we can identify as having the virus, the more people will know they need to self-isolate, which will reduce the infection rate.
"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.
"I would like to thank Durham University for making the car park available and for contributing to the cost of setting up the test centre."
Cllr Hovvels added: "It's also incredibly important that we continue to abide by the latest local and national restrictions and follow public health guidance in terms of social distancing, face coverings and handwashing."
Supporting the community
Professor Claire O'Malley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global) at Durham University, said: "We are keen to do our part to support our local communities in the fight against coronavirus. We are pleased to be supporting Durham County Council and the Department for Health and Social Care in opening this new testing centre, through providing space in our Territorial Lane car park and contributing to setup costs."
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.
People without these symptoms should not seek a test unless they have been specifically advised to do so.
Anyone attending an appointment 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 the Coronavirus advice and information page.