Published: 18:09, 04 September 2020
| Updated: 18:09, 04 September 2020
A new walk-through Covid-19 testing centre is opening in Kent tomorrow - after an MP described local testing services as a "farce".
The site will be located at the University of Kent's campus in Canterbury .
It comes after Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield slammed testing facilities in east Kent, and announced she would be writing to Health Secretary Matt Hancock to express her "severe disappointment" at the situation.
She said today: "I’ve had parents who sent their children back to school this week, contact me this morning because their children have coughs and have to stay off school until they are confirmed to be non-Covid coughs.
"The nearest testing option today being offered is Gatwick. A three hour round trip.
"How will parents get back to work or children not miss out on more endless days of vital school when no viable local testing is offered?
"When I was a teaching assistant, children in class always had coughs and colds. We need proper testing so parents and children are not stuck at home for days and days on end."
Concerns had also been raised over how local testing services would cope when thousands of students from universities across Canterbury return to the city in coming weeks, as the new academic year begins.
But the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has this evening confirmed the new walk-through testing site will open tomorrow, in Rutherford car park.
The car park is situated on Darwin Road, which is just off Hackington Road.
KentOnline has requested more information about how the facility will be accessed, and how the "walk-through" aspect will work.
The DHSC says discussions are taking place, about the possibility of adding three more walk-through testing sites in Kent.
The new centre is part of improvements that are being made to regional testing, to ensure people do not have to travel more than 75 miles to reach an appointment.
It comes amid the closure of the regional testing centre at Ebbsfleet, and the launch of a new regional testing site in Curtis Way Coach Park near the airport in Rochester.
A DHSC spokesman said: "There is a high demand for tests and to stop the spread of the virus we are targeting testing capacity at the areas that need it most, including those where there is an outbreak, as well as prioritising at-risk groups.
“Regional testing slots are allocated based on the nearest testing site with availability and we are working to ensure this takes into account journey times and distance.
“We are expanding testing capacity to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October - as well as bringing in new technology to process tests even faster.”
If you are exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms, click here or call 119 to book an appointment or order a home test kit.