A NEW coronavirus testing centre has appeared on the car park at New Bury Community Learning Centre in Farnworth.

The temporary site will offer covid-19 tests to improve access to testing facilities in the area.

In a letter to residents, Dr Helen Lowey, director of public health at Bolton Council, said: "We anticipate the test centre will be operating for some time while we bring the virus under control in Bolton so local businesses can reopen and we can once again visit friends and family.

"We all have a part to play in the fight against covid-19 and your patience and understanding at this time is greatly appreciated."

She also moved to reassure residents that there would be no additional risk to anyone living or working near the site.

Not all residents were happy with the new centre, with Audrey McCann, 73, wishing she'd been warned about a testing site appearing right next to her house.

She said: "I perfectly agree with having extra testing centres with the way things are, but it's so near to where we live.

"My husband and I have been watching what we're doing and then find something like this so close to our property – it's just silly to me, it could have gone in the centre of Farnworth.

"I've never heard of one being put so near people's houses, and I know I'm not the only one annoyed, other people think the same thing.

"I'm not against this test centre, I just think it's too near to the houses, I was boiling over when I found out."

Cllr Paul Sanders, who lives close to the new site, says he understands why people are frustrated, but praised the quick work of those involved.

He said: "I completely appreciate the vested interest and feelings of wariness that an operation like this suddenly appearing on your doorstep brings, but I'm assured by Dr Lowey that there are no additional risks to residents living nearby or passing the site.

"Leading councillors were updated about the situation at the council's Covid-19 Recovery Board meeting on Wednesday, and an official announcement made on Thursday via letters, news and social media.

"I again understand questions about a lack of public consultation, but it's been explained that the fluid nature of the pandemic response and the changing picture from day to day, meant that the public health plans were drawn-up over the weekend and have been impressively delivered by the council and multi-agency partners in just one week.

"I've been told that the large state-of-the-art trailer on the site is the first of its kind to be used in England. I've introduced myself to the management team on the testing site and I kindly ask any residents to contact me with any problems."

The site has begun testing residents today, and will offer walk-through testing capabilities for anyone with symptoms.

It is part of the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities created in British history, including 74 drive-through sites, 81 walk-through sites, 236 mobile units, home testing and satellite kits and five laboratories.

The site is being run by Sodexo, and will offer self-administered tests.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, such as a high temperature, a new and continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell, book a test as soon as possible.

Call 119 or visit nhs/uk/coronavirus to book a test.