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Kent to get 10 new Covid test centres including County Hall in Maidstone

More asymptomatic coronavirus testing centres will open in Kent by January 31, it has emerged.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands Kent County Council's (KCC) historic HQ at County Hall, in Sessions House, Maidstone, will be one of 10 new sites created over the next 20 days.

County Hall in Maidstone
County Hall in Maidstone

Rapid coronavirus tests, that gives results within a couple of hours, are being provided to people who do not have any symptoms but may, unknowingly, be spreading the virus.

A total of 14 Covid test centres are currently open in 12 Kent areas, including Dartford, Sheppey, Ramsgate, Gravesend and Tunbridge Wells, with 41,000 tests carried out at these locations over the last four weeks.

Under this, 450 people in Kent (Not including Medway) were found to be positive with the virus. This represents around 1% of the total number of people tested.

Cllr Clair Bell (Con), KCC's public health cabinet member, said: "It means that 450 people who did not know they have Covid will have been able to isolate and reduce their risk of spreading the virus quite dramatically."

KCC chiefs hope that a total of 24 test centres will be open in the 12 districts and boroughs from February. This does not include Medway, which has several test sites, including Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham.

A testing site is open at Sheerness East Working Men's Club on Sheppey
A testing site is open at Sheerness East Working Men's Club on Sheppey

Speaking at KCC's online cabinet meeting today, Cllr Bell added: "More sites will open shortly and we should have two in every district by the end of the month."

Around 87,000 cases have been recorded in Kent since the start of the pandemic last March.

Opposition councillors have supported the expansion of testing capacity, but warned the sites should have been made ready sooner.

Cllr Dara Farell (Lab), who is KCC's Labour group leader, added: "It is positive, but seems to be late in the day.

"From the start, the World Health Organisation said testing would be the way out of this crisis.

The symptom-free testing in Detling opened on Thursday
The symptom-free testing in Detling opened on Thursday

"The government has not committed to stopping asymptomatic transmission, wasting millions of pounds on the test and trace system.

"Their priority now should be to open more vaccination centres."

KCC's main opposition leader, Cllr Rob Bird (Lib Dem), of Maidstone, said he hopes the sites will be placed in easily accessible locations for residents that struggle to travel far from home.

At the walk-through locations, people will undergo a swab test that gives results within a couple of hours of attending by text or email. Those who are found to have Covid will be told to self-isolate for 10 days.

Where are the asymptomatic test sites?

Northfleet Youth Club, Hall Road, Gravesend

Swanley Youth Club, St Mary’s Road

Dover Discovery Centre, York Street

Folkestone Library. 2 Grace Hill, Folkestone

Unit 1 Eurogate Business Park, Thomson Road, Ashford

The testing centre in Victoria Road, Ashford
The testing centre in Victoria Road, Ashford

Kent Showground, Detling

Kemsley Community Centre, Ridham Avenue, Kemsley

The Centre, Birchington, Alpha Road, Birchington

Sidney Cooper Gallery, 22-23 St Peter’s Street, Canterbury

Larkfield Library Martin Square, Larkfield

Fairfield Leisure Centre, Lowfield Street, Dartford

Assembly Hall Theatre, Crescent Rd, Tunbridge Wells

Sheerness East Working Men's Club in Queenborough Road, Halfway

Ramsgate port

To book a symptom-free test, click here.

What if I have symptoms?

Residents with coronavirus symptoms, which include a cough, high temperature and loss of smell and taste, should visit a drive-through regional testing centre.

They include Ashford's Victoria Road car park, Manston Airport in Ramsgate and Rochester in Curtis Way coach park.

People with symptoms can book a test by clicking here.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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