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New asymptomatic Covid-19 testing centres to open in Sheerness and Ramsgate this week

Asymptomatic testing for Covid-19 will begin in Swale and Thanet this week in a bid to tackle the county's rampant rates of coronavirus.

Test centres at a working men's club in Sheerness and at the port in Ramsgate will offer swab tests to those who do not display symptoms of the virus but may be unwittingly spreading the illness.

The news of the news testing programme comes on the day health secretary Matt Hancock announced a new variant of the novel coronavirus has been discovered in Kent, potentially explaining the soaring rates across the county.

Kent County Council has worked with Swale Borough Council and Thanet District Council to identify the sites, which will open on Friday at the start of a roll-out of asymptomatic testing sites across the whole of the county.

There had been some disquiet in the two areas, which have among the highest rates in the country, since Medway saw testing up and running significantly sooner following the announcement of Tier 3 restrictions in Kent.

People attending the new sites will take a lateral flow swab test and should receive their result within half-an-hour of attending the test.

If they are positive, they will be told to self-isolate, follow the national guidance and they will be instructed to have a further test to confirm their positive result. If they are negative, they must still continue to observe social distancing guidelines, wear a mask in public and regularly wash hands.

The military has been setting up a Covid-19 testing site at the university campus in Medway
The military has been setting up a Covid-19 testing site at the university campus in Medway

KCC director of public health, Andrew Scott-Clark, said: "As many as one in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.

"We want to identity as many positive cases as possible, especially those who may not have any symptoms and are unknowingly transmitting the virus.

"We will ask anyone who tests positive to stay at home for 10 days and self-isolate, to help break the chain of transmission.

"This is vitally important to stop Covid-19 from spreading in the community, particularly to people who could become very sick if they catch the virus."

Staff have been recruited to the asymptomatic testing sites using funding from central Government to support local councils in Tier 3 to help reduce rates.

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