A NEW walk-through coronavirus testing centre has opened in Brighton and Hove.

Testing will start today at the former King's School site in High Street, Portslade, which was the Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA) sixth form site before that.

This is the third new testing facility to open in Sussex over the last few weeks, following the construction of a walk-through site at East Brighton Park and a drive-through site at Plumpton Racecourse.

The Argus: The testing site at East Brighton ParkThe testing site at East Brighton Park

The new sites aim to provide improved access to testing for Brighton and Hove residents after some people suffering coronavirus symptoms in the city were advised to travel as far as Cardiff, Swansea, Leicester and the Isle of Wight early last month to visit their nearest available testing centre.

Testing at the latest testing facility to open in Sussex is only available to people who have coronavirus symptoms - a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

Anyone with one or more of these symptoms is being encouraged to book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.

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The site has been set up in a location which is “easily accessible without a car”, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said.

She said: “The site is part of the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities created in British history, which now includes more than 500 sites available across the UK, including 77 drive-through sites, 172 walk-through sites, 258 mobile units, home testing and satellite kits and five mega laboratories.”

People visiting the site are urged to continue to follow coronavirus prevention measures, such as “social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, practising good personal hygiene and wearing a face-covering throughout, including while travelling to and from the testing centre”.

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Health Minister Lord Bethell 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.

“This new site forms part of our national testing network, which has the capacity to test more than a million people a week and is growing all the time.

“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 site is being operated by Sodexo, a business which provides a wide range of services ranging from food and reception to cleaning, grounds maintenance to building maintenance and security.

The Argus: The testing site at Plumpton RacecourseThe testing site at Plumpton Racecourse

The company is also the catering partner of Brighton and Hove Albion FC.

Sean Haley, regional chairman of Sodexo UK and Ireland 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 Brighton 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.”

In recent weeks, Brighton and Hove has seen a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases recorded in the city.

There were 227 cases in the seven days leading up to October 8, almost double the 115 cases recorded in the week leading up to October 1.

The week before this, there were 39 confirmed cases in the city.

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Speaking last Tuesday after data was released showing 115 weekly cases in Brighton and Hove, the city’s director of public health Alistair Hill said that some, but not all, of the sudden increase could be put down to an increased availability of testing to residents.

However, he also warned that Brighton and Hove could “risk a local lockdown” unless “extra measures” were taken to prent the rising infection rate.

In the government’s new three-tier coronavirus alert system, Brighton and Hove is currently in tier one, medium risk, with an infection rate of 70 cases per 100,000 people in the week leading up to October 9.

This is the lowest alert level, and means the city will continue to operate under the existing coronavirus restrictions - the rule of six and the 10pm curfew for hospitality sites.