Parts of Bolton will see an escalation of surge testing as concern grows over the continuing rapid rise of coronavirus in the borough.

The latest figures from Public Health England showed 89 cases of Covid-19 for every 100,000 people last week, up 78 per cent compared to the week before.

Cases of both the South Africa and India variants have been discovered in Bolton, where the infection rate is four times the England average.

The spread of the India variant has particularly concerned health officials.

On Wednesday, public health officials announced two mobile testing units (MTU) were being set up for asymptomatic people - at the Memory Lane Wedding Venue on Gilnow Lane and at Makkah Mosque on Grecian Crescent.

Home PCR tests are also available from Shree Swaminarayan Mandir temple, in Deane Road.

Anyone without symptoms who lives, works or studies in Great Lever, Deane or the rest of the Rumworth ward were urged to get tested.

Today (Saturday) health officials announced an escalation of surge testing in Bolton, with more testing sites added this weekend and officials going door-to-door to encourage testing.

Yesterday (Friday) the government confirmed a surge testing programme in Rumworth, Deane and Great Lever after Covid variants of concern were identified in those areas.

Everyone living in these parts of Bolton is asked to attend a mobile testing unit.

Mobile testing units are already operating at Memory Lane Wedding Venue and Makkah Mosque with home test kits available for pick up and return at Deane Road Temple.

Health officials have promised more mobile testing units, a renewed push on vaccines as well as more 'door-to-door' engagement in hard-to-reach communities.

They will also be dropping leaflets at every household in those areas and working with voluntary groups and community leaders.

Some of the material will be translated into other languages while there is also to be a social media campaign to encourage take-up of the vaccine and testing.

Bolton town centre

Bolton Council’s Director of Public Health, Dr Helen Lowey, said: "There is no evidence these variants cause more severe illness, there is some evidence that the Indian variant spreads more easily than other Covid-19 variants so it is the one that we want to stop and contain.

"We are working closely with our partners across the community to identify people who have the virus, to increase the numbers of our eligible residents having the vaccine and to remind us all that Covid has not gone away.

"These measures are designed to bring the virus under control, but there are basic things we can all do to stop Covid spreading.

"Wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering, maintain social distancing, keep areas well ventilated and take up the vaccine when it is offered."

Dr Helen Wall, Senior Responsible Officer of the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme in Bolton, said: "It is proven that vaccination has a significant impact on the spread and severity of the virus, so we will be taking steps to provide additional capacity in these areas.

"We have a good track record of vaccination and a high level of confidence in the programme already in Bolton and we aim to build on that with some targeted vaccination work to try and nip this in the bud to protect everyone in Bolton.

"We are so close to getting things back to normal; let’s keep up the momentum and stop this virus from spreading further."