Theatre takes centre stage in fight against virus

Theatre takes centre stage in fight against virus
Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells

The theatre is to be used as an asymptomatic testing centre to help identify strains of transmission of coronavirus – and the army has been drafted in to help administer the tests.

The news comes as health officials admit that they have double the number of coronavirus patients in Pembury Hospital than during the first wave of the virus.

The Assembly Hall which is currently closed due to Tier 4 restrictions, is one of 14 new testing centres being opened by Kent County Council across Kent.

Until now, the only people entitled to an asymptomatic test at one of the centres are those who live or work in Swale or Thanet – two areas of high infections, or key workers who live and work anywhere in Kent.

KCC Leader Roger Gough said: “The symptom-free testing sites are being set up using funding from central government to support local councils in tier 4 to help reduce rates of COVID-19 and we have also received support from the military.

“The opening of 14 sites has been a huge partnership effort between Kent County Council, central Government and the 12 district and borough councils. Another 10 sites are being planned for rollout in the coming weeks so we continue to do everything we can to help Kent out of this situation.”

Lieutenant Colonel James Cackett, Commanding Officer of the 320-strong Kent Resilience Unit added: “The Kent Resilience Unit, which includes many soldiers from 36 Engineer Regiment based in Maidstone, is looking forward to delivering community testing to the people of Kent and supporting our partners in Kent County Council, protecting our communities from coronavirus this winter.”

Tunbridge Wells Council Leader, Alan McDermott, welcomed the initiative. He said: “A test centre opening in Tunbridge Wells for people without symptoms is a very welcome development and I hope that people from across the borough will take advantage of facility and book a test.”

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