Covid: Harrogate testing centre to close this weekend as mobile units move to new site

Harrogate's coronavirus testing centre will close this weekend in a sign that the emergency response to the pandemic is being scaled back.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 1:41 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th May 2021, 3:51 pm

The testing site at the Dragon Road car park will close on Sunday (23 May) and be replaced with mobile units which will provide tests at the West Park car park several days a week.

Speaking at a briefing on Wednesday, Matthew Robinson head of resilience and emergencies at North Yorkshire County Council, said the move to mobile units was being done so that tests can be targeted to hotspot areas where they are needed the most.

He said: "The advantages of mobile testing sites is that we can flex and strengthen as we go. We will make sure that if Covid cases are increasing in a particular area we will continue to provide more frequent testing in that location."

The Dragon Road car park testing site opened in October last year with the capacity to carry out around 300 tests a day.

It was announced in March that the Dragon Road site would move to a new location due to the car park being needed by Harrogate Convention Centre, but health officials have now decided a replacement site will not be needed.

Officials are instead urging residents to use the mobile sites, online ordering and local pharmacies where testing has become more widely available.

The closure of the site follows an announcement that the vaccination centres at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate and Ripon Racecourse will also close in August - with local pharmacy sites set to play a larger role in the rollout.

Dr Ian Dilley, GP partner at East Parade Surgery in Harrogate and clinical director of the Mowbray Square Primary Care Network, said in a statement on Tuesday: “With the huge number of people now vaccinated in the local area, we feel August is an appropriate end date.

“We need to be mindful of the other pressures that will be placed on doctors’ surgeries as we head towards autumn and winter, and the annual flu vaccine campaigns that GP practices need to provide.

“We also need to enable our kind hosts at the Yorkshire Events Centre and Ripon Racecourse to provide their own events as restrictions continue to be eased and more public events are permitted.”

There are two types of coronavirus tests: rapid tests, known as lateral flow tests, and PCR tests, which are sent to labs for analysis.

Mr Robinson said anyone with symptoms should get a PCR test - and not a lateral flow - because they are more accurate and can also better detect variants of concern.

He said: "Now that lateral flows are more readily available it is easy to think you can just do one, especially if you have got them laying around your house, but the national testing policy is very clear and it is a PCR test that is needed for anyone with symptoms.

"The PCRs miss fewer positive cases and they can help us identify strains of variants as well which is really important at the moment."

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By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter