DARLINGTON and Stockton-on-Tees councils are one of 67 in England to roll out quick result community testing programmes, for asymptomatic people.

The testing centres will be set up in community centres and hubs in and around the town centres, so that people, who may not necessarily be showing Covid-19 symptoms but may have been in contact with someone who has Covid can be tested.

It is said that the programmes will hopefully allow the two towns to open up more businesses, specifically the hospitality sector, and potentially move down a tier.

The new community testing is set to start in Darlington today with sites at The Dolphin Centre and other community centres in the borough.

Speaking yesterday, Peter Gibson MP for Darlington, said: "The expansion of community testing to include Darlington is excellent news to help us tackle this virus. Coupled with the lateral flow testing taking place here already and the roll out of the vaccine the road back to normal times is looking much clearer.

"I understand work is being done in order for it to be ready tomorrow. There's two lots of testing going on, 10,000 lateral flow tests 10 days ago, which are being used in schools and for community groups, etc. Work is being done to use The Dolphin Centre and Feethams House."

Kevin Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Health & Housing, said: "People will be able to go online at www.darlington.gov.uk/testing and book a test.

"This specific scheme is for asymptomatic people, who might have been in contact with people who have Covid, but they're not necessarily showing symptoms. We're encouraging people to come in and get tested regularly, there is no limit on how many times.

"We're encouraging people like taxi drivers to come once a week and people who work in call centres - we have an aim to do 100,000 tests in the next six months."

Stockton's community testing scheme is set to start on December 21.

Matt Vickers, MP for Stockton South, said: "It's our ambition to start the testing on the 21st December. The government has given the resources and funding to start community testing.

"The council needs to get the plan in place set it up.

"The ambition is to get as many people tested as possible. People who are walking around may be asymptomatic by doing this we can get to them first."