A NEW testing centre opens in East Sussex today, increasing the options for residents seeking to check if they have Covid-19.

The drive-through site at Plumpton Racecourse will be operated by Sodexo and has been commissioned by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).

As a regional testing centre, it will have the capacity to conduct an estimated 700 tests a day and will strengthen the national Test and Trace scheme.

Tests can also be carried out at further sites at Wainwright Road, Bexhill and at Gatwick Airport.

In addition, a mobile testing unit regularly visits East Sussex and will be at Hastings Academy in Rye Road on Saturday and Sunday (October 3 and 4). This site will be both drive-through and walk-through.

All the testing facilities collect swab samples which are secured and sent to laboratories for analysis and results.

Anyone seeking a test must book an appointment before arriving at any of the testing sites. Only people with symptoms of the virus should book a test.

The site at Plumpton racecourse will operate from 08:00 to 20:00 each day. It has been commissioned to provide more access to testing and to help replace the regional site that formerly operated at the Amex stadium in Falmer. Testing is also still available at sites at Gatwick and Tangmere in West Sussex.

Darrell Gale, Director of Public Health for East Sussex, said: “This new site at Plumpton will help meet more of the demand for tests and is part of the DHSC’s efforts to increase testing capacity. With sites in both the west and east of our county, we hope people with symptoms will have more options to check if they have the virus.

“With representatives of the national Test and Trace programme, we are also looking at options for further walk-in testing sites in East Sussex.”

He added: “I’d like to reassure our local communities that they will not be exposed to greater risk from nearby testing centres. The way in which people access the sites are carefully controlled and where people can drive to sites, they can be tested without leaving their vehicles.

“We can all work together in East Sussex to restrict the virus in our communities. If you have symptoms, arrange a test as soon as you can, and self-isolate immediately you or others in your develop symptoms. Meanwhile, we should all follow NHS guidance on hand-washing, face-covering and keeping social distance.”

Book a test at https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119.