Changes to symptom-free COVID-19 testing sites announced

Published: 16/12/2021
Poster stating free rapid Covid-19 tests for people without symptoms

Following the success of Kent’s symptom free COVID-19 testing sites, which have now carried out almost 550,000 tests, residents can now pick up tests from 322 community pharmacies across the county, as well as ordering them online.

With tests being so readily available, coupled with the decreasing case numbers in the county, some of the symptom free testing sites in Kent will be closing at the end of April. However, one symptom-free test site in each district will remain open, for people who choose not to access self-test kits.

The sites were initially set up for a six-week period in December and January, but the extensive and highly successful programme has now been operating for more than 16 weeks and has identified 2,821 positive cases.

Recent government advice that everyone in England should now been taking a symptom free test twice a week, was accompanied by the news that tests will now be available from pharmacies, workplaces and also to order online. Nearly all community pharmacies in Kent have joined the collect scheme. More information on where to get lateral flow tests, including community pharmacies is available online.

“I am delighted that there are now more ways that residents in Kent can access testing kits and that we have the support of so many pharmacies in the county where people can now collect symptom free tests,” said Director of Public Health for Kent, Andrew Scott-Clark.

“Our symptom free testing sites will continue to deliver a fantastic service and we have been singled out by central government for the success of the programme in the county so far. The fact that people now have other options will hopefully increase the levels of testing even more and continue to identify anyone who is carrying the virus without knowing it.

“COVID-19 has not gone away. People are still being infected and any complacency now could jeopardise our route out of lockdown. We must keep up the pace and twice-weekly testing for everyone, including those who have been COVID-19 vaccinated, will give us an accurate picture of virus rates in communities and play a huge part in helping us to continue to drive down the number of infections and therefore save lives.”

“I want testing for residents in Kent, from aged 5 upwards, to become part of everyone’s routine. The tests are so simple to do and give rapid results. We all brush our teeth at least twice a day – so a quick test twice a week is a simple but effective way of containing this virus and moving out of lockdown.”

HM Government banner that reads: Free rapid COVID-19 tests are easy to get from a local testing site, participating pharmacies or your workplace, if available. You can also order tests online.

Residents are still encouraged to visit symptom free tests sites across the county but are advised to check and book online as several changes will be happening over the coming weeks.

ASHFORD – the site at Ashford North Youth Centre in Mabledon Avenue will close on 28 April but the Eurogate Business Park centre, TN24 8XW, centre will remain open until the end of May.

CANTERBURY – The Herne testing site will close on 26 April. The centre at the Sidney Cooper Gallery in St Peter’s Street, CT1 2BQ, will remain open until the end of May.

DARTFORD – Swanscombe Centre in Craylands Lane, DA10 0LP, will remain open until the end of May.

DOVER – The testing site at the town’s Discovery Centre will close on 30 April. Residents will be able to use the centre at The Guildhall in Sandwich, CT13 9AH, which will remain open until the end of May.

FOLKESTONE & HYTHE – The Folkestone Library site will close on 30 April. Anyone in the area can still use the testing facilities at Hawkinge Community Centre, Heron Forstal Avenue, CT18 7FP, until the end of May.

GRAVESHAM – As restrictions ease and buildings are needed again, the testing centres at the Conservative Club and Northfleet Youth Club will close on 30 April. An alternative site is being planned in the town to open the week starting 3rd May.

MAIDSTONE – The testing centre at Sessions House in County Road, ME14 1XQ, will remain open until the end of May.

SEVENOAKS – the centre at Swanley Youth Club will close on 27 April. Residents are still able to use the testing site at the Bat and Ball Centre in Cramptons Road, Sevenoaks, TN14 5DN.

SWALE – The testing centre at the Sheerness East Working Mens’ Club in Halfway, ME12 3BZ, will remain open until the end of May.

THANET – Ramsgate Port Terminal site is now closed (18th April) and residents are asked to use centres at Birchington and Sandwich as alternatives.

TONBRIDGE & MALLING – the testing centre at Larkfield Library will close on 30 April. The testing centre at the Hop Farm in Paddock Wood, TN12 6QF, will remain open until the end of May.

ALL testing sites will be closed on the public holidays of 3rd and 31st May but will be operating between 9am and 7pm on all other days.

Details and bookings can be made on Kent County Council's website. It is easy to book online and there are plenty of appointments available at all sites.

If you are experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms – high temperature, a new or continuous cough, a loss or change in taste or smell – you should NOT visit a symptom free testing site and continue to self-isolate. You can book a test by visiting the Government's website or by calling 119.