New Covid walk-in centre in Thanet among three expected to open in Kent in addition to existing sites

The Covid test centre at Manston Photo Frank Leppard

By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan

Three new coronavirus testing sites are set to open in Kent.

Covid walk-in centres have been planned for Thanet, Gravesham and Folkestone. A site also opened in Canterbury 10  days ago.

It comes a week after Ebbsfleet International station’s testing site, which had capacity for around 2,000 tests, was shut down “out of the blue” so it can be used for Brexit border checks. A new Covid centre has been set up in its place in Medway.

A Government spokesman said: “Regional testing sites were set up at great speed and selected for their immediate availability, security and access.

“The regional testing site at Ebbsfleet has ceased operations and a new regional testing site is operating at Curtis Way, Rochester. The relocation will allow the network to continue operating as long as needed.”

In East Kent, the first Covid walk-in centre opened two weeks ago as the University of Kent welcomed its first clients at Canterbury’s Rutherford car park in the college campus on Saturday, September 5.

It forms part of the Government’s drive to improve “accessibility” of coronavirus testing in local communities as Whitehall bosses continue to come under fire for major problems with the testing system.

Technical glitches and laboratory backlogs have meant some Kent residents have been told to travel as far as 470 miles to Edinburgh in Scotland or nearly 300 miles to Wales to get a test.

This comes despite reports of largely empty drive-in sites at Manston Airport in Ramsgate and Ashford’s Victoria Road car park. The Manston airport site is also subject to a special development order designating it for use as a lorry park to cope with possible post-Brexit jams at the Port of Dover. This order runs until December 31,2020, but is reportedly under negotiation for an extension.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration says that discussions are ongoing about adding three more walk-through testing sites in the county.

KCC’s public health director Andrew Scott-Clark said: “We have been working fairly hard across July and August to get more testing sites made available.”

Speaking during a virtual KCC public health committee meeting six days ago, he added: “We have got plans for Gravesham. We are working with Folkestone and with Thanet for a new local walk-in testing site.

“But these are taking some time to get on stream because there is diligence that the Department of Health and Deloitte, that are supporting us to do this work, need to do before we get these up and running.

“We are trying to make sure we have as much testing as possible across our system.”


  1. Although the ex Manston airport site is being used for testing and has a walk through part you cannot just turn up and walk through. You need to register online but it all is confusing. The site is hardly receiving many people for testing but people are being sent half way across the country so this all needs sorting out quickly. Another site in Thanet seems odd unless you will be able to register when you turn up to walk through. Will we ever get some definite information out of this government as they dont seem to be helping with their confusing info on anything covid?

  2. All we ask is a test centre that works. One we can make appointments to visit instead of redirected to London. It does not need to be world beating or be a moonshot around the care homes …… it just needs to work.

  3. Kent Resident you miss the point.
    Ebbsfleet has closed because Boris needs it for a lorry park,
    In the story you read they are negotiating to retain Manston as a lorry Park after the contract ceases on the 31st December
    Now can you see why they need another centre in Thanet?

  4. This Tory governments couldn’t run a bath! As I understand it, the Manston site is only taking samples from people, the real problem is the samples are not being tested, either at Manston, or elsewhere! This is happening countrywide! Start praying people, because its almost certain another Lockdown is coming, over 3,000 people are being tested positive with the virus every day! They may not be dying of it as much as they were, but it can cause lasting ill effects, that are very nasty!

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