A new coronavirus testing centre is due to open in South Shields next week.

According to health bosses for the borough, Chuter Ede Community Centre is due to become the latest home of a dedicated screening centre.

The plans will mean families in South Tyneside will have at least three options if they need to be assessed for a possible case of Covid-19.

“We’re continuing to expand our testing arrangements and we’ve had mobile units up and running since September,” said Tom Hall, director of public health at South Tyneside Council.

“We have one mobile testing unit which regularly operates at Temple Park and we’ve also established a testing site at the old library in Jarrow, which has been operational for a number of weeks.

“And we’re now busy operationalising a local testing site at Chuter Ede, which we hope will be up and running from next week.

“We’re starting to enhance that capability within the borough, as well as people being able to access home delivery of tests and other testing sites around the region.”

Hall was speaking at Wednesday's meeting of the council’s ruling cabinet, its ninth since the outbreak started to be held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

Bosses are working on plans to roll out new ‘lateral flow devices’, which can provide a result in as little as 20 minutes, compared to days for a conventional PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test which has to be sent to a lab for analysis.

But Mr Hall added wider issues with the screening regime may need to be addressed to ensure infection rates, which have fallen since the national lockdown was imposed last month (November), do not rise again over the Christmas period.

He said: “Testing is only effective if we can act upon the results, whether that is helping someone isolate or identifying close contacts and asking them to.

“We know the national latest and trace system has been operational for a number of months now, but we’re still pushing [for a North East regional approach].

“We think that will be a more effective model and shorten the time between someone developing symptoms, getting a test and isolating, to break the chain of transmission.

“We’re still waiting to hear whether the government will support us in that, but we hope for a rapid response.”