DRIVE-through screening for coronavirus starts in Bolton today.

Bolton NHS Foundation is now testing patients for COVID-19 in the comfort of their own cars in a bid to keep potentially affected patients away from hospitals and limit the risk to others.

Health chiefs stress that while the risk to the public remains low, the new measures will ensure Bolton is prepared for any potential increase in cases.

It comes as the total number of confirmed case of coronavirus in the borough rose to three. 

The latest figures show that 319 people in the UK are now confirmed to have Covid-19, and five people have died in British hospitals.

The drive-through service will operate on an appointment-only basis, for people who may be presenting with mild or no symptoms.

Anyone who suspects that they may have the virus should still contact 111 who will direct people to the right place to access screening.

The location is not being made public to ensure the right people are being seen and prevent people turning up on spec.

A local health centre will be used as the base for the community screening and co-ordination of the service, which will be delivered in two ways:

•Drive through screening clinic (by appointment only)

•Home visits for patients which cannot safely attend a drive through screening clinic.

People attending the clinic will be directed to a designated parking bay at the rear of the building where they will be swabbed by a member of the trust’s community teams in their car.

A spokesman for Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, which runs The Royal Bolton Hospital, said: "The Infection Prevention and Control team have been involved in planning this screening to ensure it is carried out safely and with minimal disruption to staff and the general public.

"Individuals with more serious symptoms will still be directed to the pod at the hospital to be screened and assessed.

"The most up-to-date information can be found here"

The trust says people should follow simple advice to to avoid catching or spreading the virus:

•Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.

•Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.

•Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

•Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.