PART of a Winchester car park has been converted into a coronavirus testing centre.

The walk-through, appointment-only, testing facility opened today at 2pm at Worthy Lane car park, as part of measures to increase testing and reduce the spread of the virus.

Winchester City Council offered the space so that anyone with Covid-19 symptoms can access a free swab test that takes less than a minute.

Tests should be booked or ordered as soon as symptoms begin at or by calling 119 and you can expect your result from the walk-in facility the following day.

Tests will only be carried out if pre-booked.

Testing is available for everyone, with additional support offered for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.

The Worthy Lane centre is one of five new ones in the county to additional capacity to testing. The main centre is at Southampton Airpot.

The other four new testing centres are in Aldershot, Basingstoke, Gosport and Havant.

Cllr Keith Mans, Leader of Hampshire County Council and Chair of Hampshire’s Local Outbreak Engagement Board, said: “These appointment-only walk-through sites are a very welcome addition to the testing provision we already have within the county. They will help ensure access to prompt and convenient testing, particularly for those who are unable to access testing sites by car, which is key to preventing further spread of the virus.

“Viral infection rates in Hampshire are rising – in all areas, though thankfully still not as rapidly as elsewhere in the country, but we know how quickly and easily the virus can be transmitted from person to person. We are currently in Tier 1 (Medium) of the new COVID Alert Levels which means the national restrictions continue to apply within Hampshire, and it is important that anyone with symptoms – however mild – seeks a test promptly. It is equally important that those who do not have symptoms refrain from booking a test, in order to manage demand and to ensure that tests are available for those who really need one. We would also remind residents that they should return home immediately after their test and remain in self-isolation whilst awaiting their results.”

Anyone testing positive for the virus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them track their contacts. This will help people to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission.

Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, advising them to stay at home for 14 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus. They will be advised to also book at test if they develop symptoms.

As of yesterday 82 people have died in Winchester district after testing positive for the virus. Some 991 people are known to have caught the virus, with 168 in the last seven days.

Your questions answered

When to get a test

Only book a test if you have one of the three main symptoms of the virus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell and taste), or if you are advised to do so by NHS Test and Trace.

Do not book a test if you have returned from a quarantined country unless you have symptoms.

How to get a test

Book online or by calling 119 from 7am to 11pm.

Do not call NHS 111 as this is for other health and medical issues.

When booking online, make sure you complete the form in full. This includes confirming that you have read and agreed to the terms and conditions. You will then be sent a QR code which is required to enter the testing site.

What to do if you are having difficulty booking a test site near you

Keep trying – more tests are made available throughout the day.

This new testing provision boosts the current capacity of the permanent regional testing centre at Southampton Airport, as well as the three Mobile Testing Units which are deployed around the county to wherever there is greatest need.