A NEW drive-through Covid-19 testing site has been built as the government tries to improve access for people in Sussex.

The site, which opened today at Plumpton Racecourse, will only be available to those who are suffering from coronavirus symptoms and have booked online.

It comes after a large number of Brighton and Hove residents complained they could not get much-needed tests because of a lack of sites in the city and surrounding areas.

READ MORE>>>Walk-through coronavirus testing site springs up in East Brighton Park

The government website advised some people with symptoms to travel as far as the Isle of Wight and Leicester to check if they had the virus.

Shanna Cheesman, the owner of Hungry Minds Childcare in Dyke Road, Hove, said the family of a child she cared for had driven all the way to Swansea and back to make sure the youngster was in the clear and could attend the nursery.

The Argus:

The shortage followed the closure of the testing site at the Amex stadium in Falmer with the impending start of the Premier League season.

This shut in late August.

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Brighton Pavilion Green MP Caroline Lucas said the situation was a “fiasco”.

Following repeated reports of testing shortages in Sussex, the government hastily assembled a walk-through testing site at East Brighton Park on September 21.

READ MORE>>>Brighton resident advised to travel to Wales for coronavirus test

Tom Stovold, director of the Newick-based Southern Events Group which was one of the organisations responsible for building the Brighton site, said his company had been given 48 hours’ notice and the marquee structure had been erected in just five hours.

Southern Events Group was again involved in the construction of the Plumpton Racecourse drive-through testing site.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said anyone with “a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste” could book a test by calling 119 or visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus.

She said: "The site is part of the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities created in British history, which now comprises 76 drive-through sites, 137 walk-through sites, 258 mobile units, home testing and satellite kits and five mega laboratories."

The Argus:

Health Minister Lord Bethell said the national testing network "has the capacity to test more than a million people a week and is growing all the time".

He said: “We continue to expand testing to make sure that everyone with symptoms can get a test, with our new walk-in sites making it even easier no matter where you live.

“If you have symptoms of coronavirus, I urge you to book a test today and follow the advice of NHS Test and Trace if you are contacted to protect others around you and stop the spread of the virus.”

The Argus:

The testing centre is being operated in partnership with Sodexo and will offer assisted and self-administered tests.

Sodexo’s regional chairman Sean Haley said: “Sodexo teams have moved quickly to set up Covid-19 testing centres as part of the industry-wide effort to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The East Sussex site will mean more people can be tested. I am proud of our colleagues who are working together with pace and dedication to support the NHS.”