COVID home test kits will be handed out in the town centre this weekend as the borough battles to get a grip on its rising infection rate.

Bolton has gone from having one of the lowest rates of infection in Greater Manchester to the highest in the country.

Now the leader of the Bolton Council has urged people to play their part to bring the rate down.

The local public health team will be in town centre handing out test kits and raising awareness of how to contain and stop the virus from spreading.

The council’s director of public health, Dr Helen Lowey, said: “This is one element of our ongoing proactive response to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases that we have seen in Bolton.

“A key part of this is identifying individuals, particularly younger people aged 18 to 34, who may have the virus but have no symptoms.

“Our team will be out in the town centre, and other locations, distributing home test kits.

“Anyone who does have symptoms - a continuous cough, fever, or loss of taste or smell, must self-isolate immediately and book a test via the national portal. You will be given appointment at a drive-through test centre or have a kit mailed to your home.”

Digital roadsigns have also been put in the borough reminding people of simple measures which can reduce virus transmission.

Leader of Bolton Council Cllr David Greenhalgh said: “We understand that restrictions are frustrating for people, and nobody wants to return to some normality more than myself and the administration, but Bolton’s infection rate is now currently the highest in the country and we absolutely need to slow down the spread of the disease by following guidance and taking simple precautions.

“We need to do this in order to look after those people in our community who are most vulnerable to this disease.

“We can bring the infection rate down, most people are adhering to the guidance but there are a few irresponsible people who are not and they need to.”

He added: “There is also evidence emerging that the virus could affect people later in life, so they may think they that it doesn’t affect them and they will recover, but it could cause health issues later.”

Cllr Greenhalgh said: “So we are urging people to social distance, wash their hands, wear face covering and obey the guidance so restrictions can be lifted.

“This can be done if people follow the rules.”