MORE Covid-19 test centres are set to open across the county as health bosses struggle to deal with a spike in demand, while the Sixways site has closed and moved to County Hall.

Four new centres will be opened in the county to relieve pressure on the Worcester site and give more people a testing option closer to where they live.

This follows dozens of people struggling to get tests locally or being asked to drive for hours to sites across the country.

Many said this had left their lives ‘on hold’ as families were forced to self-isolate for weeks with no way of knowing if any of them actually had the virus.

A spokesman for Worcestershire County Council said: “Our Public Health teams are working on plans for four new test sites that will be accessible on foot.

“One at the University of Worcester, one in Bromsgrove, one in Kidderminster and one in Redditch. These are to provide easier access for community members who may not drive, or need more local access for example. Residents must book a test online or by calling 119, in order to use these new sites once they are up and running.

“They are not drop-in centres. The test centres take three to four weeks to set up. “Testing is available to people who have a symptom of Covid-19 or have officially been told to get a test. If you do not have a symptom, please do not take a test from someone who needs it.” But a University of Worcester spokesman said it was still waiting to hear confirmation it will have one of the new sites. “The university has offered the free use of a highly suitable space at an easy access city centre site, as well as space beside the University of Worcester Arena, which benefits from extensive parking, to be used as a testing centre,” the spokesman said. “We are waiting to hear further. “We are very keen that the community, our students and staff have easy access to a test centre in the city centre and we will continue to work with all partners towards this.”

A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesman has also told us there are three mobile testing units already operating in the Worcester area daily.

The new testing centres are likely being set up due to growing concerns about the rise of Covid-19 cases in the county, as well as residents' struggles to book a test locally.

Charlie Ledington was among those who told us she struggled for days to get a test, with her whole family including her five children forced to self isolate after one showed symptoms.

Meanwhile, the test centre in the car park at Sixways Stadium in Worcester, which had become the hub for testing county residents during the pandemic, closed on Tuesday night, with the new regional testing centre starting operations at County Hall on Wednesday.

The DHSC spokesman was asked by a reporter why, given the recent problems with testing, County Hall did not open as a second regional site, with Sixways staying operational.

But a spokesman explained that the stadium is now set to go back to its original use - a move confirmed by Worcester Warriors.

A spokesman for Worcester Warriors said: “The Sixways site is being de-contaminated and returned to its previous use as our main car park.

“We’ve been proud to have played a part in helping protect NHS staff, key workers and the wider public by providing facilities free of charge for the drive through testing station for the past six months.

“For most of the six months the stadium site has been in lockdown. But we are starting to stage an increasing number of visitors non-rugby events – Digbeth Dining Club Friday to Sunday this weekend for example and also the launch of new Brasserie restaurant – all which are staged with strict social distancing guidelines in place.

“We have a busy programme of events scheduled over the coming months and we also hope that we will be permitted to welcome back crowds when the 2020/21 season starts in late November. "Although we are not yet allowed crowds for rugby we can admit 300 spectators for Worcester Raiders football club home matches. Their competitive season gets underway this weekend.”

The DHSC spokesman added: “Regional testing sites were set up at great speed to provide access to tests for people across the UK.

“Sites were selected where there was immediate availability, as well as being secure and easily accessible.

“To make sure the regional testing site network remains available for as long as is needed, a small number of sites are being relocated.”

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What happens at a coronavirus test in County Hall? Marshalls wave drivers through to the test centre at County Hall and direct them to where several marquees have been set up on a car park.

Signs instruct visitors not to wind down their windows and at the first checkpoint a staff member in a hi vis jacket wearing a mask holds up a sign with a telephone number for you to call.

Visitors are asked to wear masks and present their test pass – booked online - at the car window, still shut, to be scanned by the staff.

They are then asked to lower the passenger window and a pack containing the test, a zip lock bag to put it in and instructions for how to self-administer it is thrown through the gap.

Another staff member waves you into a parking space where test takers must carry out the test within the car (children and teens may be offered assistance).

To carry out the test, you must first sanitise your hands or wear protective gloves.

A swab provided must be wiped across your tonsils for ten seconds before being inserted high into one nostril for ten to 15 seconds. Patients are told they must not touch the test to their cheeks, teeth or tongue and told to flash their hazard lights if this happens to request a new swab and start again.

The completed swab is then placed into a vial of liquid and placed into the zip lock bag.

The visitor drives to another checkpoint where another masked helper checks their sample is complete through the window before they are allowed to lower the window to place the bag into a collection bin and drive away.