Published: 16:32, 29 April 2020
| Updated: 17:52, 30 April 2020
A new drive-thru coronavirus testing site has began carrying out tests.
Queues of cars were seen heading towards Ebbsfleet International Station near Gravesend today.
It is one of 48 regional testing sites the government aims to establish by the end of this month to see to NHS and other key workers.
The government aims to increase daily testing for Covid-19 to 100,000 by the end of April.
The government says it has the capacity to carry out 75,000 tests a day.
They are carried out by taking a swab of the nose and back of the throat.
The tests are being offered by appointment only and can be booked if you fall into one of the following categories:
The tests can be booked online. When the website to book the tests went live last week, it became overwhelmed after 46,000 people attempted to book their place.
Hospitals including Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, QEQM in Margate and Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford have seen testing centres built on site for health and care workers, and a small number of essential workers who cannot access the nationwide scheme
Other sites in the county which have been set up to test people include The Hop Farm in Paddock Wood.
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Wilf Williams, accountable officer for Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group and the representative for the NHS on the Kent Resilience Forum’s Strategic Coordinating Group said: “The launch of the national essential worker coronavirus testing campaign, and the opening of the drive-thru regional testing centre at Ebbsfleet International, is a major boost to all of the frontline and other essential workers in Kent and Medway.
"This programme will support us keeping our essential staff working safely and keeping a wide range of key services across the region running.
“It’s important that we remember that essential staff are not only those working in the NHS and public services.
"A lot of other essential roles in sectors such as transport, utilities, food and drink and education are also covered.
" You can find out whether your job is covered by checking the government’s website.
"It is vitally important to support our frontline workers who are doing such an essential job in our community.
“Thank you to all essential workers across Kent and Medway for the vital role you are providing to support all residents during this pandemic.”
Andrew Scott-Clark, director of Public Health for Kent County Council and co-chairman of the Kent Resilience Forum’s Health and Social Care cell, added: “The expansion of the national testing programme to include those over 65 is very welcome.
"These are some of the most vulnerable members of our society, and those most at risk of developing serious complications from coronavirus.
"By supporting our older citizens and their household members in getting tested – either at the drive-thru centre in Ebbsfleet or in their own homes through the postal testing programme – we are helping to protect them and ensure they get the care that they need."
James Williams, director of Public Health for Medway Council and co-chairman of the Kent Resilience Forum’s Health and Social Care cell, added: “To provide the best range of testing options that we can for our communities, we are also working with the government on ways we can support testing for local people.
"This includes mobile testing sites, which are being operated by our partners in the Armed Forces, which can deliver additional testing capacity in local areas for short periods of time when we need it.
More details about coronavirus testing can be found on the Kent and Medway CCG's website.